Skip to main content

Full text of "Tarr"

See other formats


TARR 



TAEE 



BY 

P. WYNDHAM LEWIS 



LONDON 

THE EGOIST LTD. 

23 ADELPHI TERRACE HOUSE, W.C. 

1918 



PRINTED AT 

THE COMPLETE PRESS 

WEST NORWOOD, S.E. 



L'ouvrage eust ete moins mien : et sa fin principale et 
perfection, c'est d'estre exactement mien. Je corri- 
gerois bien line erreur accidentale, dequoy je suis plain, 
ainsi que je cours inadvertemment ; mais les im- 
perfections qui sont en moy ordinaires et constantes, 
ce seroit trahison de les oster. Quand on m'a dit ou 
que moy-mesme me suis diet : " Tu es trop espais en 
figures : Voila un mot du cru de Gascoingne : Voila 
une frase dangereuse (je n'en refuis aucune de celles 
qui s'usent emmy les rues franchises ; ceux qui veulent 
combattre l'usage par la grammaire se mocquent) : 
Voila un discours ignorant : Voila un discours paradoxe : 
En voila un trop fol. [Tu te joues souvent, on estimera 
que tu dies a droit ce que tu dis a feinte.] — Ouy, fais-je, 
mais je corrige les fautes d'inadvertence non celles 
de coustume. Est-ce pas ainsi que je parle par tout ? 
Me represente-je pas vivement ? suflfit." 

Montaigne, Liv, III, oh. v. 

Le plus simplement se commettre a nature, c'est 
s'y commettre le plus sagement. O que c'est un 
doux et mol chevet, et sain, que l'ignorance et 
l'incuriosit6, a reposer une teste bien faicte ! " 

Montaigne, Liv. II, ch. xiii, " De l'experience." 



CONTENTS 



FAST 


PAGE 


PROLOGUE 


ix 


L BERTHA 


1 


II. DOOMED, EVIDENTLY. THE "FRAC" 


65 


IH. BOURGEOIS-BOHEMIANS 


120 


IV. A JEST TOO DEEP FOR LAUGHTER 


150 


V.. A MEGRIM OF HUMOUR 


199 


VI. HOLOCAUSTS 


238 


VH. SWAGGER SEX 


287 


EPILOGUE 


319 



Til 



PROLOGUE 

This book was begun eight years ago ; so I have 
not produced this disagreeable German for the 
gratification of primitive partisanship aroused by the 
war. On the other hand, having had him up my 
sleeve for so long, I let him out at this moment in 
the undisguised belief that he is very apposite. I am 
incidentally glad to get rid of him. He has been on 
my conscience (my conscience as an artist, it is true) 
for a long time. 

The myriads of Prussian germs, gases, and gan- 
grenes released into the air and for the past year 
obsessing everything, revived my quiescent creation. 
I was moved to vomit Kreisler forth. It is one big 
germ more. May the flames of Louvain help to 
illuminate (and illustrate) my hapless protagonist ! 
His misdemeanours too, which might appear too 
harshly real at ordinary times, have, just now, too 
obvious confirmations to be questioned. 

Germany's large leaden brain booms away in the 
centre of Europe. Her brain-waves and titanic orches- 
trations have broken round us for too long not to have 
had their effect. As we never think ourselves, except 
a stray Irishman or American, we should long ago 
have been swamped had it not been for the sea. The 
habits and vitality of the seaman's life and this 
vigorous element have protected us intellectually as 
the blue water has politically. 

In Europe Nietzsche's gospel of desperation, the 
beyond-law-man, etc., has deeply influenced the 
Paris apache, the Italian Futurist litterateur, the 

ix b 



Eussian revolutionary. Nietzsche's books are full of 
seductions and sugar-plums. They have made " aris- 
tocrats " of people who would otherwise have been 
only mild snobs or meddlesome prigs ; as much as, if 
not more than, other writings, they have made 
" expropriators " of what would otherwise merely 
have been Arsene Lupins : and they have made an 
Over-man of every vulgarly energetic grocer in 
Europe. The commercial and military success of 
Prussia has deeply influenced the French, as it is 
gradually winning the imagination of the English. 
The fascination of material power is, for the irreligious 
modern man, almost impossible to resist. 

There is much to be said for this eruption of greedy, 
fleshy, frantic strength in the midst of discouraged 
delicacies. Germany has its mission and its beauty. 
We will hope that the English may benefit by this 
power and passion, without being unnecessarily grate- 
ful for a gift that has been bought with best English 
blood, and which is not as important or unique as the 
great English gift bestowed centuries ago. 

As to the Prophet of War, the tone of Nietzsche's 
books should have discredited his philosophy. The 
modern Prussian advocate of the Aristocratic and 
Tyrannic took everybody into his confidence. Then 
he would coquet : he gave special prizes. Everybody 
couldn't be a follower of his ! No : only the minority : 
that is the minority who read his books, which has 
steadily grown till it comprises certainly (or would 
were it collected together) the ungainliest and 
strangest aristocratic caste any world could hope to 
see ! 

Kreisler in this book is a German and nothing else. 
Tarr is the individual in the book, and is at the same 
time one of the showmen of the author. His private 
life, however, I am in no way responsible for. The 
long drawn-out struggle in which we find this young 
man engaged is illuminated from start to finish by the 
hero of it. His theory, put in another way, is that an 
artist requires more energy than civilization provides, 
or than the civilized mode of life implies : more naivete, 

x 



freshness, and unconsciousness. So Nature agrees to 
force his sensibility and intelligence, on the one hand, 
to the utmost pitch, leaving him, on the other, an 
uncultivated and ungregarious tract where he can 
run wild and renew his forces and remain unspoilt. 

Tarr, in his analysis of the anomalies of taste, gives 
the key to a crowd of other variants and twists to 
which most of the misunderstandings and stupidities 
in the deciphering of men are due. He exaggerates 
his own departure from perfect sense and taste into 
an unnnecessary image of Shame and Disgust, before 
which he publicly castigates himself. He is a primitive 
figure, coupled with a modern type of flabby sophisti- 
cation : that is Bertha Lunkin. The Munich German 
Madonna stands nude, too, in the market-place, with 
a pained distortion of the face. 

Tarr's message, as a character in a book, is this. 
Under the camouflage of a monotonous intrigue he 
points a permanent opposition, of life outstripped, 
and art become lonely. He incidentally is intended 
to bring some comfort of analysis amongst less sifted 
and more ominous perplexities of our time. His 
message, as he discourses, laughs, and picks his way 
through the heavily obstructed land of this story, is 
the message of a figure of health. His introspection 
is not melancholy ; for the strange and, as with his 
pedagogic wand he points out, hideously unsatisfactory 
figures that are given ingress to his innermost apart- 
ments become assimilated at once to a life in which 
he has the profoundest confidence. He exalts Life 
into a Comedy, when otherwise it is, to his mind, 
a tawdry zone of half-art, or a silly Tragedy. Art is 
the only thing worth the tragic impulse, for him; 
and, as he says, it is his drama. Should art, that is 
some finely -adjusted creative will, suddenly become 
the drama of the youth infatuated with his maiden, 
what different dispositions would have to be made ; 
what contradictory tremors would invade his amorous 
frame; what portions of that frame would still 
smoulder amorously ? These questions Tarr disposes 
of to his satisfaction. 

xi 



So much by way of warning before the curtain rises. 
Even if the necessary tragic thrill of misgiving is 
caused thereby (or are we going to be "shocked" in 
the right way once again, not in Shaw's " bloody," 
schoolgirl way ?), it may extenuate the at times 
seemingly needless nucleus of blood and tears. 

P. Wyndham Lewis 
1915 



xn 



PART I 
BEETHA 

CHAPTEE I 

Paris hints of sacrifice. — But here we deal with 
that large dusty facet known to indulgent and 
congruous kind. It is in its capacity of delicious 
inn and majestic Baedeker, where western Venuses 
twang its responsive streets and hush to soft growl 
before its statues, that it is seen. It is not across 
its Th6baide that the unscrupulous heroes chase each 
other's shadows. They are largely ignorant of all 
but their restless personal lives. 

Inconceivably generous and naive faces haunt the 
Knackfus Quarter. — We are not, however, in a Selim 
or Vitagraph camp (though " guns " tap rhythmically 
the buttocks). — Art is being studied. — Art is the 
smell of oil paint, Henri Murger's Vie de Bolieme, 
co'rduroy trousers, the operatic Italian model. But 
the poetry, above all, of linseed oil and turpentine. 

The Knackfus Quarter is given up to Art. — Letters 
and other things are round the corner. — Its rent is 
half paid by America. Germany occupies a sensible 
apartment on the second floor. A hundred square 
yards at its centre is a convenient space, where the 
Boulevard du Paradis and Boulevard Pfeifer cross 
with their electric trams. — In the middle is a pave- 
ment island, like vestige of submerged masonry. — 
Italian models festoon it in symmetrical human 
groups ; it is also their club. — The Cafe Berne, at 
one side, is the club of the " Grands messieurs Du 
Berne." So you have the clap-trap and amorphous 
Campagnia tribe outside, in the caf£ twenty sluggish 

1 A 



common-sense Germans, a Vitagraph group or two, 
drinking and playing billiards. These are the most 
permanent tableaux of this place, disheartening and 
admonitory as a Tussaud's of The Flood. 



Hobson and Tarr met in the Boulevard du Paradis. 
— They met in a gingerly, shuffling fashion. They 
had so many good reasons for not slowing down when 
they met : crowds of little antecedent meetings all 
revivifying like the bacilli of a harmless fever at the 
sight of each other : pointing to why they should crush 
their hats over their eyes and hurry on, so that it was 
a defeat and insanitary to have their bodies shuffling 
and gesticulating there. " Why cannot most people, 
having talked and annoyed each other once or twice, 
rebecome strangers simply? Oh, for multitudes of 
divorces in our mceurs, more than the old vexed sex 
ones! Ah, yes: ah, yes — !" had not Tarr once put 
forward, and Hobson agreed ? 

" Have you been back long ? " Tarr asked with 
despondent slowness. 

" No. I got back yesterday," said Hobson, with 
pleasantly twisted scowl. 

(" Heavens : One day here only, and lo ! I meet 
him.") 

"How is London looking, then ! " 
" Very much as usual. — I wasn't there the whole 
time. — I was in Cambridge last week." 

(" I wish you'd go to perdition from time to time, 
instead of Cambridge, as it always is, you grim, grim 
dog ! " Tarr wished behind the veil.) 
They went to the Berne to have a drink. 
They sat for some minutes with what appeared a 
stately discomfort of self-consciousness, staring in 
front of them. — It was really only a dreary, boiling 
anger with themselves, with the contradictions of 
civilized life, the immense and intricate camouflage 
over the hatred that personal diversities engender. 
" Phew, phew ! " A tenuous howl, like a subter- 
ranean wind, rose from the borderland of their 
consciousness. They were there on the point of 

2 



opening with tired, ashamed fingers, well-worn pages 
of their souls, soon to be muttering between their teeth 
the hackneyed pages to each other : resentful in 
different degrees and disproportionate ways. 

And so they sat with this absurd travesty of a 
Quaker's meeting : shyness appearing to emanate 
masterfully from Tarr. And in another case, with 
almost any one but Hobson, it might have been shy- 
ness. For Tarr had a gauche, Puritanical ritual of 
self, the result of solitary habits. Certain observances 
were demanded of those approaching, and quite 
gratuitously observed in return. The fetish within — 
soul-dweller that is strikingly like wood-dweller, and 
who was not often enough disturbed to have had 
sylvan shyness mitigated — would still cling to these 
forms. Sometimes Tarr's cunning idol, aghast at its 
nakedness, would manage to borrow or purloin some 
shape of covering from elegantly draped visitor. 

But for Hobson' s outfit he had the greatest 
contempt. 

This was Alan Hobson's outfit. — A Cambridge cut 
disfigured his originally manly and melodramatic 
form. His father was a wealthy merchant somewhere 
in Egypt. He was very athletic, and his dark and 
cavernous features had been constructed by Nature 
as a lurking-place for villainies and passions. He was 
untrue to his rascally, sinuous body. He slouched 
and ambled along, neglecting his muscles : and his 
dastardly face attempted to portray delicacies of 
common sense, and gossamer-like backslidings into 
the Inane that would have puzzled a bile-specialist. 
He would occasionally exploit his blackguardly 
appearance and blacksmith's muscles for a short time, 
however. And his strong, piercing laugh threw 
ABC waitresses into confusion. 

The Art-touch, the Bloomsbury stain, was very 
observable. Hobson's Harris tweeds were shabby. 
A hat suggesting that his ancestors had been Plains- 
men or some rough sunny folk, shaded unnecessarily 
his countenance, already far from open. 

The material for conversation afforded by a short sea 
3 



voyage,~an absence, a panama hat on his companion's 
head, had been exhausted. — Tarr possessed no deft 
hand or f economy of force. His muscles rose un- 
necessarily on his arm to lift a wine-glass to his lips. 
He had no social machinery, but the cumbrous one 
of the intellect. He danced about with this, it is true. 
But it was full of sinister piston-rods, organ-like 
shapes, heavy drills. — When he tried to be amiable, 
he usually only succeeded in being ominous. 

It was an effort to talk to Hobson. For this effort 
a great bulk of nervous force was awoken. It got 
to work and wove its large anomalous patterns. It 
took the subject that was foremost in his existence 
and imposed it on their talk. 

Tarr turned to Hobson, and seized him, conversa- 
tionally, by the hair. 

" Well, Walt Whitman ^ when are you going to 
get your hair cut ? " 

" Why do you call me Walt Whitman ? " 

" Would you prefer Buffalo Bill ? Or is it Shake- 
speare ? " 

"It is not Shakespeare " 

" ' Eoi je ne suis : prince je ne daigne.' — That's 
Hobson's choice. — But why so much hair ? I don't 
wear my hair long. If you had as many reasons for 
wearing it long as I have, we should see it flowing 
round your ankles ! " 

" I might ask you under those circumstances why 
you wear it short. But I expect you have good 
reasons for that, too. I can't see why you should 
resent my innocent device. However long I wore it 
I should not damage you by my competition " 

Tarr rattled the cement match-stand on the table, 
and the gar f on sang " Toute suite, toute suite ! " 

" Hobson, you were telling me about a studio to 
let before you left. — I forget the details " 

" Was it one behind the Panth6on ? " 

" That's it.— Was there electric light ? " 

" No, I don't think there was electric light. But 
I can find out for you." 

" How did you come to hear of it ? " 
4 



" Through a German I know — Salle, Salla, or 
something." 

" What was the street ? " 

" The Eue Lhomond. I forget the number." 

" I'll go and have a look at it after lunch. — What 
on earth possesses you to know so many Germans ? " 
Tarr asked, sighing. 

" Don't you like Germans ? — You've just been too 
intimate with one ; that's what it is." 

" Perhaps I have." 

" A female German." 

" The sex weakens the ' German,' surely." 

" Does it in Fraulein Lunken's case ? " 

" Oh, you know her, do you ? — Of course, you 
would know her, as she's a German." 

Alan Hobson cackled morosely, like a very sad top- 
dog trying to imitate a rooster. 

Tarr's unwieldy playfulness, might in the chequered 
northern shade, in conjunction with nut-brown ale, 
gazed at by some Eowlandson — he on the ultimate 
borders of the epoch — have pleased by its a propos. 
But when the last Eowlandson dies, the life, too, that 
he saw should vanish. Anything that survives the 
artist's death is not life, but play-acting. This 
homely, thick -waisted affectation ! — Hobson yawned 
and yawned as though he wished to swallow Tarr 
and have done with him. Tarr yawned more noisily, 
rattled his chair, sat up, haggard and stiff, as though 
he wished to frighten this crow away. " Carrion- 
Crow " was Tarr's name for Hobson : " The olde 
Crow of Cairo," rather longer. 

Why was he talking to this man ? However, he 
shortly began to lay bare the secrets of his soul. 
Hobson opened : 

" It seems to me, Tarr, that you know more 
Germans than I do. But you're ashamed of it. Hence 
your attack. I met a Fraulein Fierspitz the other 
day, a German, who claimed to know you. I am 
always meeting Germans who know you. She also 
referred to you as the ' official fianc6 ' of Fraulein 
Lunken. — Are you an ' official fianc6 ' ? And if so, 
what is that, may I ask ? " 

5 



Tarr was taken aback, it was evident. Hobson 
laughed stridently. The real man emerging, he came 
over quickly on another wave. 

" You not only get to know Germans, crowds of 
them, on the sly; you make your bosom friend of 
them, engage yourself to them in marriage and make 
Heaven knows how many more solemn pacts, cove- 
nants, and agreements.— It's bound all to come out 
some day. What will you do then ? " 

Tarr was recovering gracefully from his relapse 
into discomfort. If ever taken off his guard, he 
made a clever use immediately afterwards of his 
naivete. He beamed on his slip. He would swallow 
it tranquilly, assimilating it, with ostentation, to 
himself. When some personal weakness slipped out 
he would pick it up unabashed, look at it smilingly, 
and put it back in his pocket. 

" As you know," he soon replied, " ' engagement 
is an euphemism. And, as a matter of fact, my girl 
publicly announced the breaking off of our engage- 
ment yesterday." 

He looked a complete child, head thrown up as 
though proclaiming something he had reason to be 
particularly proud of.— Hobson laughed convulsively, 
cracking his yellow fingers. 

" Yes, it is funny, if you look at it in that way.— I 
let her announce our engagement or the reverse just 
as she likes. That has been our arrangement from 
the start. I never know at any given time whether 
I am engaged or not. I leave all that sort of thing 
entirely in her hands. After a severe quarrel I am 
pretty certain that I am temporarily unattached, the 
link publicly severed somewhere or other." 

" Possibly that is what is meant by ' official 
fianc6 ' ? " 

" Very likely." 

He had been hustled— through his vanity, the 
Cairo Cantabian thought— somewhere where the time 
could be passed. He did not hesitate to handle 
Tarr's curiosities.— It is a graceful compliment to 
offer the nectar of some ulcer to your neighbour. The 

6 



modern man understands his udders and taps. — 
With an obscene heroism Tarr displayed his. His 
companion wrenched at it with malice. Tarr pulled 
a wry face once or twice at the other's sans gene. 
But he was proud of what he could stand. He had 
a hazy image of a shrewd old countryman in contact 
with the sharpness of the town. He would not shrink. 
He would roughly outstrip his visitor. — " Ay, I have 
this the matter with me — a funny complaint ? — and 
that, and that, too. — What then ? — Do you want 
me to race you to that hill ? " 

He obtruded complacently all he had most to be 
ashamed of, conscious of the power of an obsessing 
weakness. 



" Will you go so far in this clandestine life of yours 
as to marry anybody ? " Hobson proceeded. 

"No." 

Hobson stared with bright meditative sweetness 
down the boulevard. 

" I think there must be a great difference between 
your way of approaching Germans and mine," he said. 

" Ay : it is different things that takes us respec- 
tively amongst them." 

" You like the national flavour, all the same." 
. " I like the national flavour ! " — Tarr had a way 
of beginning a reply with a parrot-like echo of the 
words of the other party to the dialogue ; also of 
repeating sotto voce one of his own sentences, a 
mechanical rattle following on without stop. " Sex 
is nationalized more than any other essential of 
life. In this it is just the opposite to art. — There 
is much pork and philosophy in German sex. — But 
then if it is the sex you are after, it does not say you 
want to identify your being with your appetite. 
Quite the opposite. The condition of continued 
enjoyment is to resist assimilation. — A man is the 
opposite of his appetite." 

" Surely, a man is his appetite." 

" No, a man is always his last appetite, or his 
appetite before last ; and that is no longer an appe- 

7 



tite. — But nobody is anything, or life would be 
intolerable, the human race collapse. — You are me, 
I am you. — The Present is the furthest projection 
of our steady appetite. Imagination, like a general, 
keeps behind. Imagination is the man." 

" What is the Present ? " Hobson asked politely, 
with much aspirating, sitting up a little and slightly 
offering his ear. 

But Tarr only repeated things arbitrarily. He 
proceeded : 

" Sex is a monstrosity. It is the arch abortion of 
this filthy universe. — How ' old-fashioned ! ' — eh, my 
fashionable friend? — We are all optimists to-day, 
aren't we ? God's in his Heaven, all's well with the 
world ! I am a pessimist, Hobson. But I'm a 
new sort of pessimist. — I think I am the sort that 
will please ! — I am the Panurgic-Pessimist, drunken 
with the laughing-gas of the Abyss. I gaze on 
squalor and idiocy, and the more I see it, the more 
I like it. — Flaubert built up his Bouvard et Pecuchet 
with maniacal and tireless hands. It took him ten 
years. That was a long draught of stodgy laughter 
from the gases that rise from the dung-heap ? He 
had an appetite like an elephant for this form of 
mirth. But he grumbled and sighed over his food. — 
I take it in my arms and bury my face in it ! " 

As Tarr's temperament spread its wings, whirling 
him menacingly and mockingly above Hobson's 
head, the Cantab philosopher did not think it neces- 
sary to reply. — He was not winged himself. — He 
watched Tarr looping the loop above him. He was 
a drole bird ! He wondered, as he watched him, if 
he was a sound bird, or homme-oiseau. People 
believed in him. His Exhibition flights attracted 
attention. What sort of prizes could he expect to 
win by his professional talents ? Would this notable 
ambitieux be satisfied ? 

The childish sport proceeded, with serious in- 
tervals. 

11 1 bury my face in it ! " — (He buried his face in 
it ! !)_ " I laugh hoarsely through its thickness, 

8 



choking and spitting ; coughing, sneezing, blowing. — 
People will begin to think I am an alligator if they 
see me always swimming in their daily ooze. As 
far as sex is concerned, I am that. Sex, Hobson, is a 
German study. A German study." He shook his 
head in a dejected, drunken way, protruding his lips. 
He seemed to find analogies for his repeating habits, 
with the digestion. — " All the same, you must take 
my word for much in that connexion. — The choice of 
a wife is not practical in the way that the securing of 
a good bicycle, hygiene, or advertisement is. You 
must think more of the dishes of the table. Eem- 
brandt paints decrepit old Jews, the most decayed 
specimens of the lowest race on earth, that is. Shake- 
speare deals in human tubs of grease — Falstaff ; 
Christ in sinners. Now as to sex ; Socrates married 
a shrew ; most of the wisest men marry fools, picture 
post cards, cows, or strumpets." 

" I don't think that is quite true." Hobson resur- 
rected himself dutifully. " The more sensible people 
I can think of off-hand have more sensible, and on 
the whole prettier, wives than other people." 

" Prettier wives ? — You are describing a meaning- 
less average. — The most suspicious fact about a 
distinguished man is the possession of a distinguished 
-wife. But you might just as well say in answer 
to my Art statement that Sir Edward Leighton did 
not paint the decayed meat of humanity." 

Hobson surged up a little in his chair and collapsed. 
— He had to appeal to his body to sustain the 
argument. 

" Neither did Eaphael — I don't see why you should 
drag Eembrandt in — Eembrandt " 

" You're going to sniff at Eembrandt ! — You accuse 
me of following the fashions in my liking for Cubism. 
You are much more fashionable yourself. Would you 
mind my 'dragging in' cheese, high game ? " 

Hobson allowed cheeses with a rather drawn ex- 
pression. But he did not see what that had to do 
with it, either. 

" It is not purely a question of appetite," he said. 
9 



" Sex, sir, is purely a question of appetite ! " Tarr 
replied. 

Hobson inclined himself mincingly, with a sweet 
chuckle. 

" If it is pure sex, that is," Tarr added. 

" Oh, if it is pure sex — that, naturally " Hobson 

convulsed himself and crowed thrice. 

" Listen, Hobson ! — You mustn't make that noise. 
It's very clever of you to be able to. But you will 
not succeed in rattling me by making me feel I am 
addressing a rooster " 

Hobson let himself go in whoops and caws, as 
though Tarr had been pressing him to perform. 

When he had finished, Tarr said : 

" Are you willing to consider sex seriously, or not? " 

" Yes, I don't mind." — Hobson settled down, his 
face flushed from his late display. — " But I shall 
begin to believe before very long that your intentions 
are honourable as regards the fair Fraulein. — What 
exactly is your discourse intended to prove ? " 

" Not the desirability of the marriage tie, any more 
than a propaganda for representation and anecdote 
in art. But if a man marries, or a great painter 
represents (and the claims and seductions of life are 
very urgent), he will not be governed in his choice 
by the same laws that regulate the life of an efficient 
citizen, a successful merchant, or the ideals of a 
health expert." 

" I should have said that the considerations that 
precede a proposition of marriage had many analo- 
gies with the health expert's outlook, the good 
citizen's " 

" Was Napoleon successful in life, or did he ruin 
himself and end his days in miserable captivity ? — 
Passion precludes the idea of success. Failure is its 
condition. — Art and Sex when they are deep enough 
make tragedies, and not advertisements for Health 
experts, or happy endings for the Public, or social 
panaceas." 

" Alas, that is true." 

"Well, then, well, then, Alan Hobson, vou scare- 
10 



crow of an advanced fool-farm, deplorable pedant of 
a sophistic voice-culture " 

"I? My voice—? But that's absurd !— If my 
speech " 

Hobson was up in arms about his voice : although 
it was not his. 

Tarr needed a grimacing, tumultuous mask for the 
face he had to cover. — The clown was the only role 
that was ample enough. He had compared his 
clowning with Hobson's Pierrotesque and French 
variety. 

But Hobson, he considered, was a crowd. — You 
could not say he was an individual. — He was a set. 
He sat there, a cultivated audience. — He had the 
aplomb and absence of self-consciousness of numbers, 
of the herd — of those who know they are not alone. — 
Tarr was shy and the reverse by turns. He was alone. 
The individual is rustic. 

For distinguishing feature Hobson possessed a 
distinguished absence of personality. 

Tarr gazed on this impersonality, of crowd origin, 
with autocratic scorn. 

Alan Hobson was a humble investor. 

" But we're talking at cross purposes, Hobson.— 
You think I am contending that affection for a dolt, 
like my fiancee, is in some way a merit. I do not 
mean that. Also, I do not mean that sex is my 
tragedy, but art. — I will explain why I am associated 
sexually with this pumpkin. First, I am an artist. — 
With most people, not describable as artists, all the 
finer part of their vitality goes into sex. They 
become third-rate poets during their courtship. All 
their instincts of drama come out freshly with their 
wives. The artist is he in whom this emotionality 
normally absorbed by sex is so strong that it claims a 
newer and more exclusive field of deployment. — Its 
first creation is the Artist himself, a new sort of person ; 
the creative man. But for the first-rate poet, nothing 
short of a Queen or a Chimera is adequate for the 
powers of his praise. — And so on all through the 
bunch of his gifts. One by one his powers and moyens 

11 



are turned away from the usual object of a man's 
poetry, and turned away from the immediate world. 
One solitary thing is left facing a woman. — That 
is his sex, a lonely phallus. — Things are not quite so 
simple in actual fact as this. Some artists are less 
complete than others. More or less remains to the 
man. — Then the character of the artist's creation 
comes in. What tendency has my work as an artist, 
a ready instance ? You may have noticed that it has 
that of an invariable severity. Apart from its being 
good or bad, its character is ascetic rather than 
sensuous, and divorced from immediate life. There 
is no slop of sex in that. But there is no severity left 
over for the work of the cruder senses either. Very 
often with an artist w r hose work is very sensuous or 
human, his sex instinct, if it is active, will be more 
discriminating than with a man more fastidious and 
discriminating than he in his work. To sum up this 
part of my disclosure. — No one could have a coarser, 
more foolish, slovenly taste than I have in women. 
It is not even sluttish and abject, of the J. W. M. 
Turner type, with his washerwoman at Gravesend. — 
It is bourgeois, banal, pretty-pretty, a cross between 
the Musical Comedy stage and the ideal of the 
Eighteenth -Century gallant. All the delicate psycho- 
logy another man naturally seeks in a woman, the 
curiosity of form, windows on other lives, love and 
passion, I seek in my work and not elsewhere. — Form 
would perhaps be thickened by child-bearing ; it 
would perhaps be damaged by harlotry. — Why should 
sex still be active ? That is a matter of heredity 
that has nothing to do with the general energies of the 
mind. I see I am boring you. — The matter is too 
remote ! — But you have trespassed here, and you 
must listen. — I cannot let you off before you have 
heard, and shown that you understand. — If you do 
not sit and listen, I will write it all to you. You 
will be made to hear it ! — And after I have told 
you this, I will tell you why I am talking to a fool 
like you ! " 

" You ask me to be polite " 

12 



" I don't mind how impolite you are so long as 
you listen." 

" Well, I am listening — with interest." 
Tarr was tearing, as he saw it, at the blankets that 
swaddled this spirit in its inner snobberies. — A bitter 
feast was steaming hot, and a mouth must be found 
to eat it. This beggar's had to serve. It was, above 
all, an ear, all the nerves complete. He must get 
his words into it. They must not be swallowed at 
a gulp. They must taste, sting, and benefit by the 
meaning of an appetite. — He had something to say. 
It must be said while it was living. Once it was said, 
it could look after itself. — Hobson had shocked some- 
thing that was ready to burst out. He must help 
it out. Hobson must pay as well for the intimacy. 
He must pay Bertha Lunken afterwards. 

He felt like insisting that he should come round 
and apologize to her. 

" A man only goes and confesses his faults to the 
world when his self will not acknowledge or listen to 
them. The function of a friend is to be a substitute 
for this defective self, to be the World and the Eeal 
without the disastrous consequences of reality. — Yet 
punishment is one of his chief offices. — The friend 
enlarges also substantially the boundaries of our 
solitude." 



This was written in Tarr's diary. He was now 
chastising this self he wrote of for not listening, by 
telling the first stranger met. — Had a friend been 
there he could have interceded for his ego. 

" You have followed so far ? " Tarr looked with 
slow disdainful suspicion at Hobson' s face staring at 
the ground. " You have understood the nature of 
my secret ? — Half of myself I have to hide. I am 
bitterly ashamed of a slovenly, common portion of 
my life that has been isolated and repudiated by the 
energies I am so proud of. ' I am ashamed of the 
number of Germans I know,' as you put it. — I have 

13 



in that role to cower and slink away even from an 
old fruit-tin like you. It is useless heroically to 
protect that section of my life. It's no good sticking 
up for it. It is not worth protecting. It is not even 
up to your standards. I have, therefore, to deliver 
it over to your eyes, and eyes of the likes of you, 
in the end — if you will deign to use them ! — I even 
have to beg you to use your eyes ; to hold you by 
the sleeve and crave a glance for an object belonging 
to me ! 

" In this compartment of my life I have not a vestige 
of passion. — That is the root reason for its meanness 
and absurdity. — The best friend of my Dr. Jekyll 
would not know my Mr. Hyde, and vice versa. This 
rudimentary self is more starved and stupid than 
any other man's. Or to put it less or more humbly, 
I am of that company who are reduced to looking 
to Socrates for a consoling lead. 

" Think of all the collages, marriages, and liaisons 
that you know, in which some frowsy or foolish or 
doll-like or log-like bitch accompanies the form of 
an otherwise sensible man : a dumbfounding, disgust- 
ing, and septic ghost ! 

" How foul and wrong this haunting of women is ! — 
They are everywhere ! — Confusing, blurring, libelling, 
with their half-baked, gushing, tawdry presences ! 
It is like a slop of children and the bawling machinery 
of the inside of life, always and all over our palaces. 
Their silly flood of cheap illusion comes in between 
friendships, stagnates complacently around a softened 
mind. 

" I might almost take some credit to myself for 
at least having the grace to keep this bear-garden in 
the background." 

Hobson had brightened up while this was proceed- 
ing. — He now said: 

" You might almost. — Why don't you ? I admire 
what you tell me. But you appear to take your 
German foibles too much to heart." 

" Just at present I am engaged in a gala of the 
heart. You may have noticed that. — I am not a 

14 



strict landlord with the various personalities gathered 
beneath my roof. — In the present case I am really 
blessed. But you should see the sluts that get in 
sometimes ! They all become steadily my fiancee 
too. — Fiancee ! Observe how one apes the forms of 
conventional life. It does not mean anything, so 
one lets it stop. Its the same with the cafe fools 
I have for friends — there's a Greek fool, a German 
fool, a Eussian fool, — an English fool ! — There are 
no ' friends ' in this life any more than there are 
' fiancees.' So it doesn't matter. You drift on side 
by side with this live stock — friends, fiancees, 'col- 
leagues,' and what not." 

Hobson sat staring with a bemused seriousness at 
the ground. 

" Why should I not speak plainly and cruelly of 
my poor, ridiculous fiancee to you or any one ? — After 
all, it is chiefly myself I am castigating. — But you, 
too, must be of the party ! The right to see implies 
the right to be seen. As an offset for your prying, 
scurvy way of peeping into my affairs you must 
offer your own guts, such as they are ! " 

" How have I pried into your affairs ? " Hobson 
asked with a circumspect surprise. 

" Any one who stands outside, who hides himself 

in a deliquescent aloofness, is a sneak and a spy " 

'" That seems to me to be a case of smut calling the 
kettle black. I should not have said that you were 
conspicuous ' ' 

" No. — You know you have joined yourself to 
those who hush their voices to hear what other 
people are saying ! — Every one who does not fight 
openly and bear his share of the common burden of 
ignominy in life, is a sneak, unless it is for a solid 
motive. — The quiet you claim is not to work in. — 
What have you exchanged your temper, your freedom, 
and your fine voice against ? You have exchanged 
them for an old hat that does not belong to you, and 
a shabbiness you have not merited by suffering 
neediness. — Your pseudo-neediness is a sentimental 
indulgence. — Every man should be forced to dress 

15 



up to his income, and make a smart, fresh appearance. 
— Patching the seat of your trousers, instead ! " 

" Wait a minute," Hobson said, with a laugh. " You 
accuse me of sentimentality in my choice of costume. 
I wonder if you are as free from sentimentality." 

" I don't care a tinker's blue curse about that. — 
I am talking about you. — Let me proceed. — With 
your training, you are decked in the plumes of 
very fine birds indeed. But your plumes are not 
meant to fly with, but merely to slouch and skip 
along the surface of the earth. — You wear the livery 
of a ridiculous set, you are a cunning and sleek 
domestic. No thought can come out of your head 
before it has slipped on its uniform. All your 
instincts are drugged with a malicious languor, an 
arm, a respectability, invented by a set of old women 
and mean, cadaverous little boys." 

Hobson opened his mouth, had a movement of the 
body to speak. But he relapsed. 

"You reply, 'What is all this fuss about? I 
have done the best for myself. — I was not suited for 
any heroic station, like yours. I live sensibly and 
quietly, cultivating my vegetable ideas, and also my 
roses and Victorian lilies. — I do no harm to any- 
body." 

" That is not quite the case. That is a little inexact. 
Your proceedings possess a herdesque astuteness ; in 
the scale against the individual weighing less than the 
Yellow Press, yet being a closer and meaner attack. 
Also you are essentially spies, in a scurvy, safe and well- 
paid service, as I told you before. You are disguised to 
look like the thing it is your function to betray — What is 
your position ? — You have bought for eight hundred 
pounds at an aristocratic educational establishment a 
complete mental outfit, a programme of manners. 
For four years you trained with other recruits. You 
are now a perfectly disciplined social unit, with a pro- 
found esprit de corps. The Cambridge set that you 
represent is as observed in an average specimen, a 
cross between a Quaker, a Pederast, and a Chelsea 
artist.— Your Oxford brothers, dating from the Wilde 

16 



decade, are a stronger body. The Chelsea artists are 
much less flimsy. The Quakers are powerful rascals. 
You represent, my Hobson, the dregs of Anglo- 
Saxon civilization ! — There is nothing softer on 
earth. — Your flabby potion is a mixture of the 
lees of Liberalism, the poor froth blown off the 
decadent nineties, the wardrobe — leavings of a vulgar 
Bohemianism with its head- quarters in Chelsea ! 

11 You are concentrated, systematic slop. — There 
is nothing in the universe to be said for you. — Any 
efficient State would confiscate your property, burn 
your wardrobe, that old hat, and the rest, as infecte 
and insanitary, and prohibit you from propagating." 

Tarr's white collar shone dazzlingly in the sun. — 
His bowler hat bobbed and cut clean lines as he 
spoke. 

" A breed of mild pervasive cabbages has set up 
a wide and creeping rot in the West of Europe. — 
They make it indirectly a peril and tribulation for 
live things to remain in the neighbourhood. You are 
systematizing and vulgarizing the individual. — You 
are not an individual. You have, I repeat,, no right 
to that hair and that hat. You are trying to have 
the apple and eat it too. — You should be in uniform, 
and at work, not uniformly out of uniform, and 
libelling the Artist by your idleness. Are you idle ? " 

Tarr had drawn up short, turned squarely on 
Hobson; in an abrupt and disconnected voice he 
asked his question. 

Hobson stirred resentfully in his chair. He yawned 
a little. He replied : 

11 Am I idle, did you say ? Yes, I suppose I am 
not particularly industrious. But how does that 
affect you ? You know you don't mean all that 
nonsense. Vous vous moquez de moi ! Where aro 
you coming to ! " 

v I have explained already where I come in. It 
is stupid to be idle. You go to seed. — The only 
justification for your slovenly appearance, it is true, 
is that it is ideally emblematic." 

" My dear Tarr, you're a strange fellow. I can't 
17 B 



see why these things should occupy you. — You have 
just told me a lot of things that may be true or may 
not. But at the end of them all — ? Et alors ? — 
alors ? — quoi ? one asks. You contradict yourself. 
You know you don't think what you talk. You 
deafen me with your upside-downness." 

He gesticulated, got the French guttural r with 
satisfaction, and said the quoi rather briskly. 

" In any case my hat is my business !" he con- 
cluded quickly, after a moment, getting up with a 
curling, luscious laugh. 

The gargon hurried up and they paid. 

" No, I am responsible for you. — I am one of the 
only people who see. That is a responsibility." — 
Tarr walked down the boulevard with him, speaking 
in his ear almost, and treading on his toes. 

" You know Baudelaire's fable of the obsequious 
vagabond, cringing for alms I For all reply, the poet 
seizes a heavy stick and belabours the beggar with 
it. The beggar then, when he is almost beaten to 
a pulp, suddenly straightens out beneath the blows ; 
expands, stretches ; his eyes dart fire ! He rises up 
and falls on the poet tooth and nail. In a few 
seconds he has laid him out flat, and is just going 
to finish him off, when an agent arrives. — The 
poet is enchanted. He has accomplished some- 
thing ! 

" Would it be possible to achieve a work of that 
description with you ? No. You are meaner-spirited 
than the most abject tramp. I would seize you by 
the throat at once if I thought you would black my 
eye. But I feel it my duty at least to do this for 
your hat. Your hat, at least, will have had its little 
drama to-day." 

Tarr knocked his hat off into the road. — Without 
troubling to wait for the results of this action, he 
hurried away down the Boulevard du Paradis. 



18 



CHAPTEE II 

A great many of Frederick Tarr's resolutions came 
from his conversation. It was a tribunal to which 
he brought his hesitations. An active and hustling 
spirit presided over this section of his life. 

Civilized men have for conversation something of 
the superstitious feeling that ignorant men have for 
the written or the printed word. 

Hobson had attracted a great deal of steam to 
himself. Tarr was unsatisfied. — He rushed away 
from the Caf6 Berne still strong and with much more 
to say. He rushed towards Bertha to say it. 

A third of the way he came on a friend who should 
have been met before Hobson. Then Bertha and he 
could have been spared. 

Butcher was a bloody wastrel enamoured of gold 
and liberty. — He was a romantic, educating his 
schoolboyish sense of adventure up to the pitch of 
drama. He had been induced by Tarr to develop 
an interest in commerce. He had started a motor 
business in Paris, and through circularizing the 
Americans resident there and using his English 
connexions, he was succeeding on the lines sug- 
gested. 

' Tarr had argued that an interest of this sort would 
prevent him from becoming arty and silly. — Tarr 
would have driven his entire circle of acquaintances 
into commerce if he could. He had at first cherished 
the ambition of getting Hobson into a bank in South 
Africa. 

As he rushed along then a gaunt car met him, 
rushing in the opposite direction. Butcher's large 
red nose stood under a check cap phenomenally 
peaked. A sweater and Yankee jacket exaggerated 
his breadth. He was sunk in horizontal massiveness 
in the car — almost in the road. A quizzing, heavy 
smile broke his face open in an indifferent business- 
like way. It was a sour smile, as though half his 
face were frozen with cocaine. — He pulled up with 

19 



the air of an Iron-Age mechanic, born among beds 
of embryonic machinery. 

" Ah, I thought I might see you." — He rolled over 
the edge and stood grinning and stretching in front 
of his friend. 

" Where are you off to ? " Tarr asked. 

61 1 heard there were some gypsies encamped over 
by Charenton." — He smiled and waited, his entire 
face breaking up expectantly into cunning pits and 
traps. — Mention of " gypsies " usually drew Tarr. 
They were a survival of Butcher's pre-motor days. 

" Neglecting business % " was all Tarr said how- 
ever. " Have you time for a drink ? " 

" Yes ! " Butcher turned with an airy jerk to 
his car. " Shall we go to the Pantheon ? " 

" How about the Univers ? Would that take 
long % " 

" The Univers % Four or five minutes. — Jump 
in." 

When they had got to the Univers and ordered 
their drink, Tarr said : 

" I've just been talking to Alan Hobson. I've 
been telling him off." 

" That's right. — How had he deserved it ? " 

" Oh, he happened to drop on me when I was 
thinking about my girl. He began congratulating 
me on my engagement. So I gave him my views 
on marriage, and then wound up with a little impro- 
visation about himself." 

Butcher maintained a decorous silence, drinking 
his beer. 

" You're not engaged to be married, are you % " 
he asked. 

" Well, that's a difficult question." — Tarr laughed 
with circumspection and softness. " I don't know 
whether I am or whether I'm not." 

" Would it be the German girl, if you were ? " 

" Yes, she'd be the one." 

There was a careful absence of comment in Butcher's 
face. 

" Ought I to marry the Lunken ? " 
20 



" No," Butcher said with measure. 

" In that case I ought to tell her at once." 

" That is so." 

Tarr had a dark morning coat, whose tails flowed 
behind him as he walked strongly and quickly along, 
and curled on either side of his hips as he sat. It 
was buttoned half-way down the body. — He was 
taller than Butcher, wore glasses, had a dark skin, 
and a steady, unamiable, impatient expression. He 
was clean-shaven, with a shallow, square jaw and 
straight, thick mouth. — His hands were square and 
usually hot. 

He impressed you as having inherited himself last 
week, and as under a great press of business to grasp 
the details and resources of the concern. Not very 
much satisfaction at his inheritance, and no swank. 
Great capacity was printed all over him. — He did 
not appear to have been modified as yet by any 
sedentary, sentimental, or other discipline or habit. 
He was at his first push in an ardent and exotic 
world, with a good fund of passion from a frigid 
climate of his own. — His mistakes he talked over 
without embarrassment. He felt them deeply. He 
was experimental and modest. 

A rude and hard infancy, according to Balzac, is 
best for development of character. A child learns 
duplicity, and hardens in defence. — An enervating 
childhood of molly-coddling, on the other hand, such 
as Tarr's, has its advantages. — He was an only child 
of a selfish, vigorous mother. The long foundation 
of delicate trustfulness and childishness makes for 
a store of illusion to prolong youth and health beyond 
the usual term. Tarr, with the Balzac upbringing, 
would have had a little too much character, like a 
rather too muscular man. As it was, he was a shade 
too nervous. But his confidence in the backing of 
character was unparalleled. You would have thought 
he had an iron-field behind him. 

When he solicited advice, it was transparently a 
matter of form. But he appeared to need his awn 
advice to come from himself in public. — Did he feel 

21 



himself of more importance in public ? — His relation 
to the world was definite and complementary. He 
preferred his own word to come out of the air ; when, 
that is, issuing from his mouth, it entered either ear 
as an independent vibration. He was the kind of 
man who, if he ever should wish to influence the 
world, would do it so that he might touch himself 
more plastically through others. He would paint 
his picture for himself. He was capable of respect 
for his self-projection. It had the authority of a 
stranger for him. 

Butcher knew that his advice was not really 
solicited. — This he found rather annoying, as he 
wanted to meddle. But his opportunity would come. 
— Tarr's affairs with Bertha Lunken were very 
exasperating. Of all the drab, dull, and dispropor- 
tionately long liaisons, that one was unique ! He had 
accepted it as an incomprehensible and silly joke. 

" She's a very good sort. You know, she is 
phenomenally kind. It's not quite so absurd as you 
think, my question as to whether I should marry 
her. Her love is quite beyond question." 

Butcher listened with a slight rolling of the eyes, 
which was a soft equivalent for grinding his teeth. 

Tarr proceeded : 

" She has a nice healthy penchant for self-immola- 
tion ; not, unfortunately, directed by any consider- 
able tact or discretion. She is apt to lie down on 
the altar at the wrong moment — even to mistake all 
sorts of unrelated things for altars. She once lay 
down on the pavement of the Boulevard Sebastopol, 
and continued to lie there heroically till, with the 
help of an agent, I bundled her into a cab. She 
is genial and fond of a gross pleasantry, very near 
to c the people ' — le peuple, as she says, purringly and 
pityingly. All individuals who have class marked 
on them strongly resemble each other. A typical 
duchess is much more like a typical nurserymaid 
than she is like anybody not standardized to the same 
extent. So is Bertha, a bourgeoise, or rather bourgeois- 
Bohemian, reminiscent of the popular maiden." 

22 



Tarr relighted his cigarette. 

" She is full of good sense. — She is a high standard 
Aryan female, in good condition, superbly made ; 
of the succulent, obedient, clear, peasant type. It 
is natural that in my healthy youth, living in these 
Bohemian wastes, I should catch fire. But that is 
not the whole of the picture. She is unfortunately 
not a peasant. She has German culture, and a 
florid philosophy of love. — She is an art-student. — 
She is absurd." 

Tarr struck a match for his cigarette. 

" You would ask then how it is that I am still 
there ? The peasant-girl — if such it were — would 
not hold you for ever ; even less so the spoiled 
peasant. — But that's where the mischief lies. — That 
bourgeois, spoiled, ridiculous element was the trap. 
I was innocently depraved enough to find it irre- 
sistible. It had the charm of a vulgar wall-paper, 
a gimcrack ornament. A cosy banality set in the 
midst of a rough life. Youthful exoticism has done 
it, the something different from oneself." 

Butcher did not roll his eyes any more. They 
looked rather moist. He was thinking of love and 
absurdities that had checkered his own past, and 
was regretting a downy doll. He was won over 
besides by Tarr's plaidoirie, as he always was. His 
friend could have convinced him of anything on 
earth within ten minutes. 

Tarr, noticing the effect of his words, laughed. 
Butcher was like a dog, with his rheumy eyes. 

" My romance, you see, is exactly inverse to yours," 
Tarr proceeded. " But pure unadulterated romanti- 
cism with me is in about the same rudimentary state 
as sex. So they had perhaps better keep together ? 
I only allow myself to philander with little things. 
I have succeeded in shunting our noxious illusionism 
away from the great spaces and ambitions. I have 
billeted it with a bourgeoise in a villa. These things 
are all arranged above our heads. They are no doubt 
self-protective. The whole of a man's ninety-nine 
per cent, of obscurer mechanism is daily engaged in 

23 



organizing his life in accordance with his deepest 
necessity. Each person boasts some notable inven- 
tion of personal applicationjonly. 

" So there I am fixed with my bourgeoise in my 
skin, dans ma peau. What is the next step ? — The 
body is the main thing. — But I think I have made 
a discovery. In sex I am romantic and arriSrS. 
It would be healthier for all sex to be so. But that 
is another matter. Well, I cannot see myself attracted 
by an exceptional woman — ' spiritual ' woman — 
' noble soul,' or even a particularly refined and witty 
animal. — I do not understand attraction for such 
beings. — Their existence appears to me quite natural 
and proper, but, not being as fine as men ; not being 
as fine as pictures or poems ; not being as fine as 
housewives or classical Mothers of Men ; they appear 
to me to occupy an unfortunate position on this 
earth. No man properly demarcated as I am will 
have much to do with them. They are very beautiful 
to look at. But they are unfortunately alive, and 
usually cats. If you married one of them, out of 
pity, you would have to support the eternal grin 
of a Gioconda fixed complacently on you at all hours 
of the day, the pretensions of a piece of canvas that 
had sold for thirty thousand pounds. You could 
not put your foot through the canvas without being 
hanged. You would not be able to sell it yourself 
for that figure, and so get some little compensation. 
Tout an plus, if the sentimental grin would not 
otherwise come off, you could break its jaw, perhaps." 

Butcher flung his head up, and laughed affectedly. 

" Ha ha ! " — he went again. 

" Very good ! — Very good ! — I know who you're 
thinking of," he said. 

" Do you ? Oh, the ' Gioconda smile,' you mean ? 
— Yes. — In that instance, the man had only his 
silly sentimental self to blame. He has paid the 
biggest price given in our time for a living master- 
piece. Sentimentalizing about masterpieces and 
sentimental prices will soon have seen their day, I 
expect. New masterpieces in painting will then 

24 



appear again, perhaps, where the live ones leagued 
with the old dead ones disappear. — Beally, the more 
one considers it, the more creditable and excellent 
my self-organization appears. I have a great deal 
to congratulate myself upon." 

Butcher blinked and pulled himself together with 
a grave dissatisfied expression. 

" But will you carry it into effect to the extent? — 
Will you ? — Would marriage be the ideal termina- 
tion ? " — Butcher had a way of tearing up and 
beginning all over again on a new breath. 

11 That is what Hobson asked. — No, I don't think 
marriage has anything to do with it. That is another 
question altogether." 

" I thought your remarks about the housewife 
suggested " 

11 No. — My relation to the idea of the housewife 
is platonic. I am attracted to the housewife as I 
might be attracted to the milliner. But just as I 
should not necessarily employ the latter to make 
hats — I should have some other use for her — so my 
connexion with the other need not imply a manage. 
But my present difficulty centres round that question : 

" What am I to do with Fraulein Lunken ? " 

Butcher drew himself up, and hiccuped solemnly 
and slowly. 

He did not reply. 

" Once again, is marriage out of the question ? " 
Tarr asked. 

" You know yourself best. I don't think you 
ought to marry." 

"Why, am I ? " 

11 No. You wouldn't stop with her. So why 
marry ? " 

He hiccuped again, and blinked. 

Tarr gazed at his oracle with curiosity. — With eyes 
glassily bloodshot, it discharged its wisdom on gusts 
of air. Butcher was always surly about women, or 
rather men's tenderness for them. He was a vindic- 
tive enemy of the sex. He stood, a patient constable, 
forbidding Tarr respectfully a certain road. He 

25 



spoke with authority and shortness, and hiccuped 
to convey the absolute and assured quality of his 
refusal. 

" Well, in that case," Tarr said, " I must make 
a move. I have treated Bertha very badly." 

Butcher smothered a hiccup. — He ordered another 
drink. 

" Yes, I owe my girl anything I can give her. It 
is hardly my fault. With the training you get in 
England, how can you be expected to realize any- 
thing ? The University of Humour that prevails 
everywhere in England as the national institution 
for developing youth, provides you with nothing 
but a first-rate means of evading reality. The whole 
of English training — the great fundamental spirit of 
the country — is a system of deadening feeling, a 
prescription for Stoicism. Many of the results are 
excellent. It saves us from gush in many cases ; 
it is an excellent armour in times of crisis or mis- 
fortune. The English soldier gets his special cachet 
from it. But for the sake of this wonderful panacea — 
English humour — we sacrifice much. It would be 
better to face our Imagination and our nerves without 
this soporific. Once this armature breaks down, the 
man underneath is found in many cases to have 
become softened by it. He is subject to shock, over- 
sensitiveness, and many ailments not met with in 
the more frank and direct races. Their superficial 
sensitiveness allows of a harder core. — To set against 
this, of course, you have the immense reserves of 
delicacy, touchiness, sympathy, that this envelope 
of cynicism has accumulated. It has served English 
art marvellously. But it is probably more useful for 
art than for practical affairs. And the artist could 
always look after himself. Anyhow, the time seems 
to have arrived in my life, as I consider it has arrived 
in the life of the country, to discard this husk and 
armour. Life must be met on other terms than 
those of fun and sport." 

Butcher guffawed provocatively. Tarr joined him. 
They both quaffed their beer. 

26 



" You're a terrible fellow," said Butcher. " If 
you had your way, you'd leave us stark naked. We 
should all be standing on our little island in the 
savage state of the Ancient Britons — figuratively." 
He hiccuped. 

" Yes, figuratively. But in reality the country 
would be armed better than it ever had been before. 
And by the sacrifice of these famous ' national cha- 
racteristics ' we cling to sentimentally, and which are 
merely the accident of a time, we should lay a soil 
and foundation of unspecific force, on which new 
and realler ' national flavours ' would very soon 
sprout." 

11 1 quite agree," Butcher jerked out energetically. 

He ordered another lager. 

" I agree with what you say. If we don't give 
up dreaming, we shall get spanked. I have given 
up my gypsies. That was very public -spirited of 
me ? " He looked coaxingly. 

61 If every one would give up their gypsies, their 
jokes, and their gentlemen — ' Gentlemen ' are 
worse than gypsies. It would do perhaps if they 
reduced them considerably, as you have your Gitanos. 
— I'm going to swear off humour for a year. I am 
going to gaze on even you inhumanly. All my mock 
mutrimonial difficulties come from humour. I am 
going to gaze on Bertha inhumanly, and not humor- 
ously. Humour paralyses the sense for reality and 
wraps people in a phlegmatic and hysterical dream- 
world, full of the delicious swirls of the switchback, 
the drunkenness of the merry-go-round — screaming 
leaps from idea to idea. My little weapon for bring- 
ing my man to earth — shot-gun or what not — gave 
me good sport, too, and was of the best workmanship. 
I carried it slung jauntily for some time at my side — 
you may have noticed it. But I am in the tedious 
position of the man who hits the bull's-eye every 
time. Had I not been disproportionately occupied 
with her absurdities, I should not have allowed this 
charming girl to engage herself to me. 

11 My first practical step now will be to take this 
27 



question of ' engaging ' myself or not into my own 
hands. I shall disengage myself on the spot." 

" So long as yon don't engage yourself again next 
minute, and so on. If I felt that the time was not 
quite ripe, I'd leave it in Fraulein Lunken's hands 
a little longer. I expect she does it better than you 
would." 

Butcher filled his pipe, then he began laughing. 
He laughed theatrically until Tarr stopped him. 

" What are you laughing at ? " 

" You are a nut ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

84 How am I a nut ? You must be thinking about 
your old machine out there." 

Butcher composed himself — theatrically. 

" I was laughing at you. You repent of your 
thoughtlessness, and all that. Your next step is to 
put it right. I was laughing at the way you go about it. 
You now proceed kindly but firmly to break off your 
engagement and discard the girl. That is very neat." 

" Do you think so ? Well, perhaps it is a trifle 
over-tidy. I hadn't looked at it in that way." 

" You can't be too tidy," Butcher said dogmati- 
cally. He talked to Tarr, when a little worked up, 
as Tarr talked to him. He didn't notice that he did. 
It was partly cdlinerie and flattery. 

Tarr pulled out a very heavy and determined- 
looking watch. He would have suffered had he been 
compelled to use a small watch. For the time to be 
microscopic and noiseless would be unbearable. The 
time must be human. That he insisted on. And it 
must not be pretty or neat. 

"It is late. I must go. Must you get back to 
Passy or can you stop ? " 

" Do you know, I'm afraid I must get back. I 
have to lunch with a fellow at one, who is putting me 
on to a good thing. But can I take you anywhere ? 
Or are you lunching here ? " 

" No. — Take me as far as the Samaritaine, will 
you ? " 

Butcher took him along two sides of the Louvre, 
to the river. 

28 



11 Good-bye, then. Don't forget Saturday, six 
o'clock." 

Butcher nodded in bright, clever silence. He 
shuffled into his car again, working his shoulders like 
a verminous tramp. He rushed away, piercing blasts 
from his horn rapidly softening as he became smaller. 
Tarr was glad he had brought the car and Butcher 
together. They were opposites with some grave 
essential in common. 

His usual lunch time an hour away, his so far 
unrevised programme was to go to the Eue Lhomond 
and search for Hobson's studio. For the length of 
a street it was equally the road to the studio and to 
Bertha's rooms. He knew to which he was going. 

But a sensation of peculiar freedom and leisure 
possessed him. There was no hurry. Was there 
any hurry to go where he was going ? With a smile 
in his mind, his face irresponsible and solemn, he 
turned sharply into a narrow street, rendered danger- 
ous by motor-buses, and asked at a loge if Monsieur 
Lowndes were in. 

" Monsieur Lounes ? Je pense que oui. Je ne 
l'ai pas vu sortir." 

He ascended to the fourth floor and rang a bell. 

Lowndes was in. He heard him coming on tiptoe 
to ,the door, and felt him gazing at him through an 
invisible crack. He placed himself in a favourable 
position. 



CHAPTEE III 

Tarr's idea of leisure recognized no departure from 
the tragic theme of existence. Pleasure could take 
no form that did not include Death and corruption — 
at present Bertha and humour. Only he wished 
to play a little longer. It was the last chance he 
might have. Work was in front of him with Bertha. 
He was giving up play. But the giving up of 
play, even, had to take the form of play. He had 
seen in terms of sport so long that he had no other 

29 



machinery to work with. Sport might perhaps, for 
the fun of the thing, be induced to cast out sport. 

As Lowndes crept towards the door, Tarr said to 
himself, with ironic self-restraint, " Bloody fool, 
bloody fool ! " 

Lowndes was a brother artist, who was not very 
active, but had just enough money to be a Cubist. He 
was extremely proud of being interrupted in his work. 
His " work " was a serious matter. He found " great 
difficulty " in working. He always implied that you 
did not. He had a form of persecution mania as 
regards his " mornings." From his discourse you 
gathered that he was, first of all, very much sought 
after. People, seemingly, were always attempting to 
get into his room. You imagined an immense queue 
of unwelcome visitors (how or why he had gathered 
or originally, it was to be supposed, encouraged, such, 
you did not inquire). You never saw this queue. 
The only person you definitely knew had been guilty 
of interrupting his " work " was Thornton. This 
man, because of his admiration for Lowndes' intelli- 
gence and moth-like attraction for his Cubism, and 
respect for his small income, had to suffer much 
humiliation. He was to be found (even in the morn- 
ing, strange to say) in Lowndes' studio, rapidly suck- 
ing a pipe, blinking, flushing, stammering with 
second-rate Public School mannerisms, retailing 
scandal and sensational news, which he had acquired 
from a woman who had sat next him at the invariable 
dinner-party of the night before. 

When you entered, he looked timidly and quickly 
at the inexorable Lowndes, and began gathering up 
his hat and books. Lowndes' manner became wither- 
ing. You felt that before your arrival, his master 
had been less severe ; that life might have been 
almost bearable for Thornton. When he at last had 
taken himself off, Lowndes would hasten to exculpate 
himself. " Thornton was a fool, but he could not 
always keep Thornton out," etc. Lowndes, with his 
Thornton, displayed the characteristics of the self- 
made man. He had risen ambitiously in the sphere 

30 



of the Intelligence. Thornton sat like an inhabitant 
of the nether world of gossip, pettiness, and squalor 
from which his friend had lately issued. He enter- 
tained an immense respect for that friend. This 
one of his own kind in a position of respect and 
security was what he could best understand, and 
would have most desired to be. 

" Oh ! Come in, Tarr," Lowndes said, looking at 
the floor of the passage, " I didn't know who it 
was." The atmosphere became thick with ghost- 
like intruders. The wretched Thornton seemed to 
hover timidly in the background. 

" Am I interrupting you ? " Tarr asked politely. 

11 No-o-o ! " a long, reassuring, musical negative. 

His face was very dark and slick, bald on top, 
pettily bearded, rather unnecessarily handsome. Tarr 
always felt a tinge of indecency in his good looks. 
His Celtic head was allied to a stocky commercial 
figure. Behind his spectacles his black eyes had a 
way of scouring and scurrying over the floor. They 
were often dreamy and burning. He waddled slightly, 
or rather confided himself first to one muscular little 
calf, then to the other. 

Tarr had come to talk to him about Bertha. 

" I'm afraid I must have interrupted your work ? " 
Tarr said with mock ceremony. 

"'No, it's all right. I was just going to have a 
rest. I'm rather off colour." 

Tarr misunderstood him. 

" Off colour ? What is the matter with colour 
now ? " 

" No, I mean I'm seedy." 

" Oh, ah. Yes." 

His eyes still fixed on the ground, Lowndes pottered 
about, like a dog. 

As with most educated people who " do " any- 
thing, and foresee analysis and fame, he was bio- 
graphically minded. A poor man, he did his Boswell- 
ing himself. His self-characterization, proceeding 
whenever he was not alone, was as follows : " A fussy 
and exacting man, slightly avuncular, strangely, 

31 



despite the fineness and amplitude of his character, 
minute, precious, and tidy." (In this way he made 
a virtue of his fuss.) To show how the general 
illusion worked in a particular case : " He had been 
disturbed in his ' work ' by Tarr, or had just emerged 
from that state of wonderful concentration he called 
' work.' He could not at once bend himself to more 
general things. His nerves drove him from object 
to object. But he would soon be quiet." 

Tarr looked on with an ugly patience. 

" Lowndes, I have come to ask you for a little 
piece of advice." 

Lowndes was flattered and relished the mystery. 

" Ye-es," he said, smiling, in a slow, ■ sober,' 
professional sing-song. 

" Or rather, for an opinion. What is your opinion 
of German women ? " 

Lowndes had spent two years in Berlin and Munich. 
Many of his friends were Austrian. 

" German women ? But I must know first why you 
ask me that question. You see, it's a wide subject." 

" A wide subject — wide. Yes, very good ! Ha 
ha ! — Well, it is like this. I think that they are 
superior to Englishwomen. That is a very dangerous 
opinion to hold, as there are so many German women 
knocking about just now. — I want to rid myself of 
it. — Can you help me ? " 

Lowndes mused on the ground. Then he looked 
up brightly. 

" No, I can't. Because I share it ! " 

" Lowndes, I'm surprised at you. I never thought 
you were that sort of man ! " 

" How do you mean ? " 

" Perhaps you can help me nevertheless. Our 
ideas on females may not be the same." 

Tarr always embarrassed him. Lowndes huddled 
himself tensely together, worked at his pipe, and met 
Tarr's jokes painfully. He hesitated to sally forth 
and drive the joke away. 

" What are your ideas on females ? " he asked in 
a moment. 

32 



11 Oh, I think they ought to be convex if you are 
concave — stupid if you are intelligent, cold if you 
are cold, frigid if you are volcanic. Always white 
all over, clothes, underclothes, skin and all. — My 
ideas do not extend much beyond that." 

Lowndes organized Tarr's statement, with a view 
to an adequate and light reply. He gnawed at his 
pipe. 

" Well, German women are usually convex. There 
are also concave ones. There are cold ones and hot 
ones." He looked up. " It all seems to depend 
what you are like ! " 

" I am cold ; inclined to be fat ; forte tite ; and 
swarthy, as you see." 

" In that case, if you took plenty of exercise," 
Lowndes undulated himself as though for the passage 
of the large bubbles of chuckle, " I should think that 
German women would suit you very well ! " 

Tarr rose. 

" I wish I hadn't come to see you, Lowndes. Your 
answer is disappointing." 

Lowndes got up, disturbed at Tarr's sign of 
departure. 

" I'm sorry. But I'm not an authority." He 
leant against the fireplace to arrest Tarr's withdrawal 
for a minute or two. " Are you doing much work ? " 

" 1 1 No." 

" Are you ever in in the afternoons ? I should like 
to come round some day " 

" I'm just moving into a new studio." 

Lowndes looked suddenly at his watch, with 
calculated, ape-like impulsiveness. 

" Where are you having lunch ? I thought of 
going down to Lejeune's to see if I could come across 
a beggar of the name of Kreisler. He could tell you 
much more about German women than I can. He's 
a German. Come along, won't you ? Are you doing 
anything ? " 

" No, I know quite enough Germans. Besides, I 
must go somewhere — I can't have lunch just yet. 
Good-bye. Thank you for vour opinion." 

33 " C 



" Don't mention it," Lowndes said softly, his head 
turned obliquely to his shoulder, as though he had 
a stiff neek, and balancing on his calves. 

He was rather wounded, or brusque, by the brevity 
of Tarr's visit. His " morning " had not received 
enough respect. It had been treated, in fact, cava- 
lierly. His " work " had not been directly mentioned. 

When Tarr got outside, he stood on the narrow 
pavement, looking into a shop window. It was a 
florist's and contained a great variety of flowers. He 
was surprised to find that he did not know a single 
flower by name. He hung on in front of this shop 
before pushing off, as a swimmer does to a rock, 
waving his legs. Then he got back into the street 
from which his visit to Lowndes had deflected him. 
He let himself drift down it. He still had some way 
to go before he need decide between the Eue Martine 
(where Bertha lived) and the Eue Lhomond. 

He had not found resolution in his talks. That 
already existed, the fruit of various other conversa- 
tions on his matrimonial position — held with the 
victim, Fraulein Lunken, herself. 

Not to go near Bertha was the negative programme 
for that particular day. To keep away was seldom 
easy. But ever since his conversation at the Berne 
he had been conscious of the absurd easiness of doing 
so, if he wished. He had not the least inclination 
to go to the Eue Martine ! — This sensation was so 
grateful that its object shared in its effect. He deter- 
mined to go and see her. He wanted to enjoy his 
present feeling of indifference. Where best to enjoy 
it was no doubt where she was. 

As to the studio, he hesitated. A new situation 
was created by this new feeling of indifference. Its 
duration could not be gauged. — He wished to stay 
in Paris just then to finish some paintings begun 
some months before. He substituted for the Impres- 
sionist's necessity to remain in front of the object 
being represented, a sensation of the desirability of 
finishing a canvas in the place where it was begun. 
He had an Impressionist's horror of change. 

34 



So Tarr had evolved a plan. At first sight it was 
wicked. It was no blacker than most of his in- 
genuities. Bertha, as he had suggested to Butcher, 
he had in some lymphatic way, dans la peau. It 
appeared a matter of physical discomfort to leave 
her altogether. It must be done gradually. So he 
had thought that, instead of going away to England- 
where the separation might cause him restlessness, 
he had perhaps better settle down in her neighbour, 
hood. Through a series of specially tended ennuis, 
he would soon find himself in a position to depart. 
So the extreme nearness of the studio to Bertha's 
flat was only another inducement for him to take it. 
" If it were next door, so much the better ! " he 
thought. 

Now for this famous feeling of indifference. Was 
there anything in it ? — The studio for the moment 
should be put aside. He would go to see Bertha. 
Let. this visit solve this question. 



CHAPTEE IV 

The new summer heat drew heavy pleasant ghosts 
out of the ground, like plants disappeared in winter ; 
spectres of energy, bulking the hot air with vigorous 
dreams. Or they had entered into the trees, in imita- 
tion of Pagan gods, and nodded their delicate distant 
intoxication to him. Visions were released in the 
sap, with scented explosion, the spring one bustling 
and tremendous reminiscence. 

Tarr felt the street was a pleasant current, setting 
from some immense and tropic gulf, neighboured by 
Floridas of remote invasions. He ambled down it 
puissantly, shoulders shaped like these waves ; a 
heavy-sided drunken fish. The houses, with winks 
of the shocked clockwork, were grazed, holding along 
their surface thick soft warmth. It poured weakly 
into his veins. A big dog wandering on its easily 
transposable business, inviting some delightful acci- 

35 



dent to deflect it from maudlin and massive prome- 
nade. In his mind, too, as in the dog's, his business 
was doubtful— a small black spot ahead in his bram, 
half puzzling but peremptory. 

The mat heavy light grey of putty -coloured houses, 
like thickening merely of hot summer atmosphere 
without sun, gave a spirituality to this deluge of 
animal well-being, in weighty pale sense-solidarity. 
Through the opaquer atmosphere sounds came lazily 
or tinglingly. People had become a Balzacian species, 
boldly tragic and comic: like a cast of "Comedie 
Humaine'' humanity off for the day, Balzac sleeping 
immensely in the cemetery. 

Tarr stopped at a dairy. He bought saladed 
potatoes, a petit Suisse. The coolness, as he entered, 
felt eerie. The dairyman, in blue-striped smock and 
black cap, peaked and cylindrical, came out of an 
inner room. Through its glasses several women 
were visible, busy at a meal. This man's isolation 
from the heat and mood of the world outside, im- 
pressed his customer as he came forward with a 
truculent " Monsieur I " Tarr, while his things were 
done up, watched the women. The discreet voices, 
severe reserve of keen business preoccupations, 
showed the usual Paris commercante. The white, 
black, and slate-grey of dresses, extreme neatness, 
silent felt over-slippers, make their commercial 
devotions rather conventual. With this purchase- 
followed by one of strawberries at a fruiterers 
onposite— his destination was no longer doubtful. 

He was going to Bertha's to eat his lunch Hence 
the double quantity of saladed potatoes. He skirted 
the railings of the Luxembourg Gardens for fifteen 
vards. Crossing the road, he entered the Eue 
Martine, a bald expanse of uniformly coloured rosy- 
grey paVement, plaster, and shutter. A large iron 
late led into a short avenue of trees. At its end 
Bertha lived in a three-story house. 

The leaden brilliant green of spring foliage hung 
above him, ticketing innumerably the trees, sultry 
smoke volumes from factories in Fairyland. Its 

36 



novelty, fresh yet dead, had the effectiveness of an 
unnecessary mirage. The charm of habit and 
monotony he had come to affront seemed to have 
coloured, chemically, these approaches to its 
home. 

He found Bertha's eye fixed on him with a sort of 
humorous indifferent query from the window. He 
smiled, thinking what would be the veritable answer ! 
On finding himself in the presence of the object of 
his erudite discussion, he felt he had got the focus 
wrong. This familiar life, with its ironical eye, 
mocked at him too. It was aware of the subject of 
his late conversation. The twin of the shrewd 
feeling embodied in the observation, " One can never 
escape from oneself," appeared. 

This ironical unsurprised eye at the window, so 
vaguely apropos, offended him. It seemed to be 
making fun of the swaggering indifference he was 
bringing to bask in the presence of its object. He 
became slightly truculent. 

11 Have you had lunch yet, my dear ? " he asked, 
as she opened the door to him. " I've brought you 
some strawberries." 

" I didn't expect you, Sorbet. No, I've not had 
lunch. I was just going to get it." (Sorbet, or in 
English, Sherbert, was his nom d'amour, a perversion 
of his name, Sorbert). 

Bertha's was the intellectually fostered Greek type 
of German handsomeness. It is that beauty that 
makes you wonder, when you meet it, if German 
mothers have replicas and photographs of the Venus 
of Milo in their rooms during the first three months 
of their pregnancy. It is also found in the pages of 
Prussian art periodicals, the arid, empty intellec- 
tualism of Munich. She had been a heavy baby. 
Her body now, a self-indulgent athlete's, was strung 
to heavy motherhood. 

A great believer in tepid " air-baths," she would 
remain, for hours together, in a state of nudity about 
her rooms. She was wearing a pale green striped 
affair, tight at the waist. It looked as though meant 

37 



for a smaller woman. It may have belonged to her 
sister. As a result, her ample form had left the 
fullness of a score of attitudes all over it, in flat 
creasings and pencillings — like the sanguine of an 
Italian master in which the leg is drawn in several 
positions, one on top of the other. 

" What have you come for, Sorbet ? " 

" To see you. What did you suppose ? " 

" Oh, you have come to see me ? " 

" I brought these things. I thought you might be 
hungry." 

" Yes, I am rather." She stopped in the passage, 
Dryad-like on one foot, and stared into the kitchen. 
Tarr did not kiss her. He put his hand on her hip — 
a way out of it — and led her into the room. His 
hand remarked that she was underneath in her 
favourite state of nakedness. 

Bertha went into the kitchen with the provisions. 
She lived in two rooms on one side of the front door. 
Her friend, Fraulein Goenthner, to whom she sub-let, 
lived on the other side of it, the kitchen promis- 
cuously existing between, and immediately facing the 
entrance. 

Tarr was in the studio or salon. It was a complete 
bourgeois-bohemian interior. Green silk cloth and 
cushions of various vegetable and mineral shades 
covered everything, in mildewy blight. The cold, 
repulsive shades of Islands of the Dead, gigantic 
cypresses, grottos of Teutonic nymphs, had invaded 
this dwelling. Purple metal and leather steadily 
dispensed with expensive objects. There was the 
plaster cast of Beethoven (some people who have 
frequented artistic circles get to dislike this face 
extremely), brass jars from Normandy, a photograph 
of Mona Lisa (Tarr hated the Mona Lisa). 

A table just by the window, laid with a white 
cloth, square embroidered holes at its edges, was 
where Tarr at once took up his position. Truculence 
was denoted by his thus going straight to his eating- 
place. 

Installed in the midst of this ridiculous life, he 
38 



gave a hasty glance at his " indifference " to see 
whether it were safe and sound. Seen through it, on 
opening the door, Bertha had appeared unusual. 
This impressed him disagreeably. Had his rich and 
calm feeling of bounty towards her survived the 
encounter, his " indifference " might also have 
remained intact. 

He engrossed himself in his sense of physical well- 
being. Prom his pocket he produced a tin box 
containing tobacco, papers, and a little steel machine 
for rolling cigarettes given him by Bertha. A long 
slim hinged shell, it nipped in a little cartridge of 
tobacco, which it then slipped with inside a paper 
tube, and slipping out again empty, the cigarette was 
made. 

Tarr began manufacturing cigarettes. Eeflections 
from the shining metal in his hand scurried about 
amongst the bilious bric-a-brac. Like a layer of 
water lying on one of oil, the light heated stretch by 
the windows appeared distinct from the shadowed 
part of the room. 

This place was cheap and dead, but rich with the 
same lifelessness as the trees without. These looked 
extremely near and familiar at the opened windows, 
breathing the same air continually as Bertha. But 
they were dusty, rough, and real. 

Bertha came in from the kitchen. She went on 
with a trivial rearrangement of her writing-table. 
This had been her occupation as he appeared at the 
gate beneath, drawing her ironical and musing eye 
from his image to himself. A new photograph of 
Tarr was being placed on her writing-table flush with 
the window. Ten days previously it had been taken 
in that room. It had ousted a Klinger and generally 
created a restlessness, to her eye, in the other objects. 

" Ah, you've got the photographs, have you ? — Is 
that me?" 

She handed it to him. 

11 Yes, they came yesterday ! " 

11 Yesterday " he had not been there ! Whatever 
he asked at the present moment would draw a softly 

39 



thudding answer, heavy German reproach concealed 
in it with tireless ingenuity. These photographs 
would under other circumstances have been produced 
on his arrival with considerable noise. 

Tarr had looked rather askance at this portrait and 
Bertha's occupation. There was his photograph, 
calmly, with an air of permanence, taking up its 
position on her writing-table, just as he was preparing 
to vanish for good. 

" Let's see yours," he said, still holding the photo- 
graph. 

What strange effects all this complicated activity 
inside had on the surface, his face. A set sulky 
stagnation, every violence dropping an imperceptible 
shade on to it, the features overgrown with this 
strange stuff — that twist of the head that was him, 
and that could only be got rid of by breaking. 

" They're no good," she said, closing the drawer, 
handing her photographs, sandwiched with tissue- 
paper, to Sorbert. "That one " — a sitting pose, face 
yearning from photograph, lighted, not with a smile, 
but a sort of sentimental illumination, the drapery 
arranged like a poster — " I don't think that's so 
bad," she said slangily, meant to be curt and 
" cheeky." 

" What an idiot ! " he thought ; " what a face ! " 

A consciously pathetic ghost of a smile, a clumsy 
sweetness, the energetic sentimental claim of a 
rather rough but frank self. 

There was a photograph of her in riding habit. 
This was the best of them. He softened. 

Then came a photograph of them together. 

How strangely that twist of his, or set angle of the 
head, fitted in with the corresponding peculiarities 
of the woman's head and bust. What abysms of 
idiocy ! Eubbishy hours and months formed the 
atmosphere around these two futile dolls ! 

He put the photographs down and looked up. She 
was sitting on the edge of the table. The dressing- 
gown was open, and one large thigh, with ugly 
whiteness, slid half out of it. It looked dead, and 

40 



connected with her like a ventriloquist's dummy with 
its master. It was natural to wonder where his 
senses had gone in looking at these decorous photo- 
graphs. This exhibition appeared to be her expla- 
nation of the matter. The face was not very original. 
But a thigh cannot be stupid to the same degree. 

He gazed surlily. Her musing expression at this 
moment was supremely absurd. He smiled and 
turned his face to the window. She pretended to 
become conscious suddenly of something amiss. She 
drew the dressing-gown round her. 

" Have you paid the man yet ? What did he 
charge ? I expect " 

Tarr took up the packet again. 

11 Oh, these are six francs. I forget what the big 
ones are. I haven't paid him yet. He's coming to 
photograph Miss Goenthner to-morrow." 

They sat without saying anything. 

He examined the room as you do a doctor's waiting- 
room. 

He had just come there to see if he could turn his 
back on it. That appeared at first sight a very easy 
matter. That is why he so far had not succeeded in 
doing so. Never put on his mettle, his standing 
army of will was not sufficient to cope with it. But 
would this little room ever appear worth turning his 
back on ? It was the purest distillation of the 
commonplace. He had become bewitched by its 
strangeness. It was the height of the unreal. Bertha 
was like a fairy that he visited, and " became 
engaged " to in another world, not the real one. It 
was so much the real ordinary world that for him 
with his out-of-the-way experience it was a phantas- 
magoria. Then what he had described as his disease 
of sport was perpetually fed. Sex even with him, 
according to his analysis, being a sort of ghost, was 
at home in this gross and buffonic illusion. Some- 
thing had filled up a blank and become saturated 
with the blankness. 

How much would Bertha mind a separation ? 
Tarr saw in her one of those clear, humorous, super - 

41 



ficial natures, a Venetian or a Viennese, the easy- 
product of a cynical and abundant life. He under- 
rated the potency of his fascination. Secondly, he 
miscalculated the depths of obedient attachment he 
had wakened. 

They sat impatiently waiting. A certain formality 
had to be observed. Then the business of the day 
could be proceeded with. They were both bored 
with the part imposed by the punctilious and 
ridiculous god of love. Bertha, into the bargain, 
wanted to get on with her cooking. She would have 
cut considerably the reconciliation scene. All her 
side of the programme had been conscientiously done. 

" Berthe, tu es une brave fille ! " 

11 Tu trouves ? " 

"Oui." 

More inaction followed on Tarr's part. She some- 
times thought he enjoyed these ceremonies. 

Through girlhood her strong senses had churned 
away at her, and claimed an image from her gentle 
and dreamy mind. In its turn the mind had accumu- 
lated its impressions of men, fancies from books and 
conversations, and made its hive. So her senses 
were presented with the image that was to satisfy 
and rule them. They flung themselves upon it as 
she had flung herself upon Tarr. 

This image left considerable latitude. Tarr had 
been the first to fit — rather paradoxically, but all 
the faster for that. 

This " high standard Aryan female," as Tarr 
described her, had arrived, with him, at the full and 
headlong condition we agree to name " love." The 
image, or type, was thrown away. The individual 
took its place. 

Bertha had had several sweethearts before Tarr. 
They had all left the type-image intact. At most it 
had been a little blurred by them. It had almost 
been smashed for one man, physically resembling 
Tarr. But he had never got quite near enough to 
do that. Tarr had characteristically supposed this 
image to have little sharpness of outline left. He 

42 



thought it would not be a very difficult matter for 
any one to extort its recognition. 

" Vous etes mon gout, Sorbet. Du bist mein 
gesmack," she would say. 

Tarr was not demonstrative when she said this. 
He could not reciprocate. And he could not help 
reflecting whether to be " her taste " was very 
flattering. There must be something the matter 
with him. 

All her hope centred in his laziness. She watched 
his weaknesses with a loving eye. He had much to 
say about his under-nature. She listened attentively. 

11 It is the most dangerous quality of all to possess," 
and he would sententiously add — " only the best 
people possess it, in common with the obscure and 
humble. It is like a great caravanserai in which 
scores of people congregate. It is a disguise in which 
such a one, otherwise Pasha, circulates among 
unembarrassed men. He brings away stores of 
wisdom, with much diversion by the way." He saw, 
however, the danger of these facilities. The Pasha 
had been given a magic mask of humbleness. But 
the inner nature seemed flowing equally to the mask 
and the unmasked magnificence. He was as yet 
unformed, but wished to form wholly Pasha. This 
under-nature' s chief use was as a precious vilUgiature 
for his energy. Bertha was the country wench the 
more exalted incarnation had met while on its holidays, 
or, wandering idle Khalife, in some concourse of his 
surreptitious life. 

His three days' unannounced and uncommented 
"leave" had made Bertha very nervous. She 
suffered from the incomplete, unsymmetrical appear- 
ance her life now presented. Everything spread out 
palpably before her, that she could arrange like a 
roomful of furniture, was how she liked it. Even in 
her present shakedown of a life, Tarr had noticed the 
way he was treated as material for " arrangement." 
But she had never been able to indulge this idiosyn- 
crasy much in the past. This was not the first time 

43 



that she had found herself in a similar position. 
Hence her certain air of being at home in these 
casual quarters, which belied her. 

The detested temporary dwelling in the last few 
days had been given a new coat of sombre thought. 
Found in accidental quarters, had she not been over- 
delicate in not suggesting an immediate move into 
something more homelike and permanent. People 
would leave her there for the rest of her natural life 
unless she were a little brutal and got herself out 
somehow. No shadow of un-nice feeling ever tainted 
her abject genuineness. Cunning efforts to retain 
him abounded. But she never blamed or turned on 
him. She had given herself long ago, at once, 
without ceremony. She awaited his thanks or no 
thanks simply. 

But the itch of action was on her. 

Tarr's absences were like light. His presence was 
a shadow. They were both stormy. The last 
absence had illuminated the undiscipline of her life. 
During the revealing luridness, she got to work. 
Eeconstruction was begun. She had trusted too 
much in Fate and obedient waiting Hymen. 

So Bertha had a similar ferment to Tarr's. 

Anger with herself, dreary appetite for action, 
would help her over farewells. She was familiar 
enough with them, too, in thought. She would not 
stir a hand to change things. He must do that. She 
would only facilitate things in all directions for him. 
The new energy delivered attack after attack upon 
her hope. She saw nothing beyond Tarr but measures 
of utility. The " heart " had always been her most 
cherished ornament. That Tarr would take with 
him, as she would keep his ring and the books he 
had given her. She could not now get it back for 
the asking. She did not want it ! She must indulge 
her mania for tasteful arrangement in future without 
this. Or rather what heart she had left would be 
rather like one of those salmon-coloured, corrugated 
gas office-stoves, compared to a hearth with a fire of 
pine. 

U 



Tarr had not brought his indifference there to make 
it play tricks, perform little feats. Nor did he wish 
to press it into inhuman actions. It was a humane 
" indifference," essentially. So with reluctance he 
got up, and went over to her. 

" You haven't kissed me yet," he said, in imitation 
of her. 

11 Why kiss you, Sorbet % " she managed to say 
before her lips were closed. He drew her ungraciously 
and roughly into his arms, and started kissing her 
on the mouth. She covered him, docilely, with her 
inertia. He was supposed to be performing a miracle 
of bringing the dead to life. Gone about too crudely, 
the willing mountebank, Death, had been offended. 
It is not thus that great spirits are prevailed upon to 
flee. Her " indifference " — the great, simulated, and 
traditional — would not be ousted by an upstart and 
younger relative. By Tarr himself, grown repentant, 
yes. But not by another " indifference." Then his 
brutality stung her offended spirit, that had been 
pursing itself up for so many hours. Tears began 
rolling tranquilly out of her eyes in large dignified 
drops. They had not been very far back in the wings. 
He received them frigidly. She was sure, thought 
he, to detect something unusual during this scene. 

Then with the woman's bustling, desperate, posses- 
sive fury, she suddenly woke up. She disengaged her 
arms wildly and threw them round his neck, tears 
becoming torrential. Underneath the poor comedian 
that played such antics with such phlegmatic and 
exasperating persistence, this distressed being thrust 
up its trembling mask, like a drowning rat. Its finer 
head pierced her blunter wedge. 

u Oh ! dis, Sorbet ! Est-ce que tu m'aime ? 
M'aime-tu ? Dis ! " 

11 Yes, you know. Don't cry." 

A wail, like the buzzing on a comb covered with 
paper followed. 

M Oh, dis ; m'aimes-tu ! Dis que tu m'aime ! " 

A blurting, hurrying personality rushed right up 
into his face. It was like the sightless clammy 

45 



charging of a bat. More eloquent regions had 
ambushed him. Humbug had mysteriously departed. 
It was a blast of knifelike air in the middle of their 
hot -house. He stared at her face groping up as 
though it scented troubles in his face. It pushed to 
right and then to left and rocked itself. Intelligent 
and aware, it lost this intensity. 

A complicated image developed in his mind as he 
stood with her. He was remembering Schopenhauer. 
It was of a Chinese puzzle of boxes within boxes, or 
of insects' discarded envelopes. A woman had in the 
middle of her a kernel, a sort of very substantial 
astral baby. This baby was apt to swell. She then 
became all baby. The husk he held was a painted 
mummy-case. He was a mummy-case too. Only 
he contained nothing but innumerable other painted 
cases inside, smaller and smaller ones. The smallest 
was not a substantial astral baby, however, or live 
core, but a painting like the rest. His kernel was a 
painting. That was as it should be ! 

He was half sitting on the table. He found him- 
self patting her back. He stopped doing this. His 
face looked heavy and fatigued. A dull, intense 
infection of her despair had filled it. 

He held her head gently against his neck. Or he 
held her skull against his neck. She shook and 
sniffed softly. 

" Bertha, stop crying. I know I'm a brute. But 
it's fortunate for you that I am. I'm only a brute. 
There's nothing to cry for." 

He over-estimated deafness in weepers. And when 
women flooded their country he always sat down and 
waited. Often as this had happened to him, he had 
never attempted to circumvent it. He felt like a 
person who is taking a little dog for a walk at the 
end of a string. His voice appeared husky and 
artificial near her ear. 

Turned towards the window, he looked at the 
green stain of the foliage outside. Something was 
explained. Nature was not friendly to him ; its 
metallic tints jarred. Or anyhow, it was the same 

46 



for all men. The sunlight seen like an adventurous 
stranger in the streets was intimate with Bertha. 
The scrap of crude forest had made him want to be 
away unaccompanied. But it was tainted with her. 
If he went away now he would only be playing at 
liberty. He had been right in not accepting the 
invitations of the spring. The settlement of this 
question stood between him and pleasure. A mo- 
mentary well-being had been accepted. The larger 
spiritual invitation he had rejected. He would only 
take that when he was free. In its annual expansion 
Nature sent its large unstinting invitations. But 
Nature loved the genius and liberty in him. Tarr 
felt the invitation would not have been so cordial 
had he proposed taking a wife and family ! 

He led her passively protesting to the sofa. Like 
a sick person, she was half indignant at being moved. 
He should have remained, a perpendicular bed for 
her, till the fever had passed. Eevolted at the 
hypocrisy required, he left her standing at the edge 
of the sofa. She stood crouching a little, her face 
buried in her hands, in indignant absurdity. The 
only moderately clean thing to do would be to walk 
out of the door at once and never come back. With 
his background of months of different behaviour this 
could not be done. 

She sank down on the sofa, head buried in the 
bilious cushions. She lay there like an animal, he 
thought, or some one mad, a lump of half -humanity. 
On one side of him Bertha lay quite motionless and 
silent, and on the other the little avenue was equally 
still. The false stillness within, however, now gave 
back to the scene without its habitual character. It 
still seemed strange to him. But all its strangeness 
now lay in its everyday and natural appearance. 
The quiet inside, in the room, was what did not seem 
strange to him. He had become imbued with that. 
Bertha's numb silence and abandon was a stupid 
tableau vivant of his own mood. In this impasse of 
arrested life he stood sick and useless. They pro- 
gressed from stage to stage of this weary farce. Con- 

47 



fusion increased. It resembled a combat between 
two wrestlers of mathematically equal strength. 
Neither could win. One or other of them was 
usually wallowing warily or lifelessly on his stomach, 
the other tugging at him or examining and prodding 
his carcass. His liking, contempt, realization of her 
love for him, his confused but exigent conscience, 
dogged preparation to say farewell, all dovetailed 
with precision. There she lay a deadweight. He 
could take his hat and go. But once gone in this 
manner he could not stay. 

He turned round, and sitting on the window-sill 
began again staring at Bertha. 

Women's stormy weakness, psychic discharges, 
always affected him as the sight of a person being 
seasick. It was the result of a weak spirit, as the 
other was the result of a weak stomach. They could 
only live on thQ retching seas of their troubles on the 
condition of being quite empty. The lack of art or 
illusion in actual life enables the sensitive man to exist. 
Likewise the phenomenal lack of nature in the average 
man's existence is lucky and necessary for him. 

Tarr in some way gathered strength from con- 
templation of Bertha. His contradictory and dis- 
located feelings were brought into a new synthesis. 

Launching himself off the window-sill, he stood still 
as though suspended in thought. He then sat down 
provisionally at the writing-table, within a few feet 
of the sofa. He took up a book of Goethe's poems 
that she had given him. In cumbrous field-day dress 
of Gothic characters, squad after squad, these poems 
paraded their message. He had left it there on a 
former visit. He came to the ode named " Ganymed," 

Wie im Morgenglanze 

Du rings mich angluhst 

Fruhling, Oeliebter ! 

Mit tausendfacher Liebeswonne 

Sich an mein herz drdngt 

Deiner ewigen Warme 

Heilig, Gefiihl, 

Unendliche Schone ! 
48 



He put it in his breast-pocket. As soldiers go into 
battle sometimes with the Bible in their pocket, he 
prepared himself for a final combat, with Goethe 
upon his person. Men's lives have been known to 
have been saved through a lesser devoutness. 

He was engaging battle again with the most 
chivalrous sentiments. The reserves had been called 
up, his nature mobilized. As his will gathered force 
and volume (in its determination to " fling " her) he 
unhypocritically keyed up its attitude. It resembled 
extreme cunning. He had felt, while he had been 
holding her, at a disadvantage because of his listless 
emotion. With emotion equal to hers, he could 
accomplish anything. Leaving her would be child's 
play. He appeared to be projecting the manufacture 
of a more adequate sentiment. 

Any indirectness was out of the question. A 
" letting her down softly," kissing and leaving in an 
hour or two, as though things had not changed, that 
must now be eschewed — oh, yes. The genuine 
section of her, of which he had a troubled glimpse, 
mattered, nothing else. He must appeal obstinately 
to that. Their coming together had been prosecuted 
on his side with a stupid levity. He would retrieve 
this in the parting. He wished to do everything 
most opposite to his previous lazy conduct. He 
frowned on Humour. 

The first skirmish of his comic Armageddon had 
opened with the advance of his mysterious and 
goguenard " indifference." This dwindled away at 
the first onset. A new and more powerful thing had 
taken its place. This was, in Bertha's eyes, a 
difference in Tarr. 

" Something has happened ; he is different" she 
said to herself. " He has met somebody else," had 
been her rapid provisional conclusion. 

She suddenly got up without speaking. Eather 
spectrally, she went over to the writing-table for her 
handkerchief. She had not moved an inch or a 
muscle until quite herself again, dropping steadily 

49 D 






down all the scale of feeling to normal. With 
matter-of-factness she got up, easily and quietly, 
making Sorbert a little dizzy. 

Her face had all the drama wrung out of it. It was 
hard, clear, and garishly white, like her body. 

If he were to have a chance of talking he must 
clear the air of electricity completely. Else at his 
first few words storm might return. 

Once lunch had swept through the room, things 
would be better. He would send the strawberries 
ahead to prepare his way. It was like fattening a 
lamb for the slaughter. This idea pleased him. 
Now that he had accepted the existence of a possible 
higher plane of feeling as between Bertha and himself, 
he was anxious to avoid display. So he ran the risk 
of outdoing his former callousness. Tarr was satu- 
rated with morbid English shyness, that cannot 
tolerate passion and its nakedness. This shyness, as 
he contended, in its need to show its heart, discovers 
subtleties and refinements of expression, opposites 
and between shades, unknown to less gauche and 
delicate people. But if he were hustled out of his 
shell the anger that co-existed with his modesty was 
the most spontaneous thing he possessed. Bertha 
had always left him alone. 

He got up, obsequiously reproducing in his own 
movements and expression her new normality. 

" Well, how about lunch ? I'll come and help 
you with it." 

" There's nothing to do. I'll get it." 

Bertha had wiped her eyes with the attentiveness 
a man bestows on his chin after a shave, in little 
brusque hard strokes. She did not look at Tarr. 
She arranged her hair in the mirror, then went to 
the kitchen. For her to be so perfectly natural 
offended him. 

The intensity of her past feeling carried her on for 
about five minutes into ordinary life. Her serious- 
ness was tactful for so long. Then her nature began 
to give way. It broke up again into fits and starts 

50 



of selfconsciousness. The mind was called in, did its 
work clumsily as usual. She became her usual self. 
Sitting on the stool by the window, in the act of 
eating, Tarr there in front of her, it was more than 
ever impossible to be natural. She resented the 
immediate introduction of lunch in this way. The 
resentment increased her artificiality. 

To counterbalance the acceptance of food, she had 
to throw more pathos into her face. With haggard 
resignation she was going on again ; doing what was 
asked of her, partaking of this lunch. She did so 
with unnecessary conscientiousness. Her strange 
wave of dignity had let her in for this ? Almost she 
must make up for that dignity ! Life was confusing 
her again ; it was useless to struggle. 

" Aren't these strawberries good ? These little 
hard ones are better than the bigger strawberries. 
Have some more cream ? " 

" Thank you." She should have said no. But 
being greedy in this matter she accepted it, with 
heavy air of some subtle advantage gained. 

" How did the riding lesson go off ? " She went 
to a riding school in the mornings. 

" Oh, quite well, thank you. How did your lesson 
go off? " This referred to his exchange of languages 
with a Eussian girl. 

" Admirably, thank you." 

The Eussian girl was a useful feint for her. 

" What is the time ? " The time ? What cheek ! 
He was almost startled. 

He took his heavy watch out and presented its 
face to her ironically. 

" Are you in a hurry ? " he asked. 

11 No, I just wondered what the time was. I live 
so vaguely." 

11 You are sure you are not in a hurry ? " 

" Oh, no ! " 

" I have a confession to make, my dear Bertha." 
He had not put his watch back in his pocket. She 
had asked for the watch ; he would use it. "I came 
here just now to test a funnv mood — a quite new 

51 



mood. My visit is a sort of trial trip of this mood. 
It was connected with you. I wanted to find out 
what it meant, and how it would be affected by your 
presence." 

Bertha looked up with mocking sulky face, a shade 
of hopeful curiosity. 

" It was a feeling of complete indifference as regards 
yourself ! " 

He said this solemnly, with the pomp with which a 
weighty piece of news might be delivered by a solicitor 
in conversation with his client. 

" Oh, is that all ? " The new barbaric effort was 
met by Bertha scornfully. 

" No, that is not all." 

Catching at the professional figure his manner had 
conjured up, he ran his further remarks into that 
mould. The presence of. his watch in his hand had 
brought some image of the family physician or gouty 
attorney. It all centred round the watch, and her 
interest in the time of day. 

" I have found that this was only another fraud 
on my too credulous sensibility." He smiled with 
professional courtesy. " At sight of you, my mood 
evaporated. But what I want to talk about is what 
is left. It would be well to bring our accounts up 
to date. I'm afraid the reckoning is enormously 
against me. You have been a criminally indulgent 
partner " 

He had now got the image down to the more precise 
form of two partners, perhaps comfortable wine 
merchants, going through their books. 

" My dear boy, I know that. You needn't trouble 
to go any further. But why are you going into 
these calculations, and sums of profit and loss ? " 

"Because my sentimental finances, if I may use 
that term, are in a bad state." 

" Then they only match your worldly ones." 
" In my worldly ones I have no partner," he 
reminded her. 

gj She cast her eyes about in swoops, full of self- 
possessed wildness. 

52 



" I exonerate you, Sorbet," she said, " you 
needn't go into details. What is yours and what is 
mine. Mv God ! What does it matter ? Not 
much ! " 

" I know you to be generous " 

" Leave that then ! Leave these calculations ! 
All that means so little to me ! I feel at the end of 
my strength — an bout de force ! " She always heaved 
this out with much energy. " If you've made up 
your mind to go — do so, Sorbet. I release you ! 
You owe me nothing. It was all my fault. But 
spare me a reckoning. I can't stand any more " 

11 No, I insist on being responsible. We can't 
leave things upside down — our books in an endless 
muddle, our desks open, and just walk away for ever 
— and perhaps set up shop somewhere else ? " 

" I do not feel in any mood to ' set up shop some- 
where else,' I can assure you ! " 

The unbusinesslike element in the situation she 
had allowed to develop for obvious reasons. She 
now resisted his dishonest attempt to set this right, 
and benefit first, as he had done, by disorder, and 
lastly by order. 

11 We can't, in any case, improve matters by 
talking. I — I, you needn't fear for me, Sorbet. I 
can look after myself, only don't let us wrangle," 
with appealing gesture and saintlily smiling face, 
11 let us part friends. Let us be worthy of each 
other." 

Bertha always opposed to Tarr's images her 
Teutonic lyricism, usually repeating the same phrases 
several times. 

This was degenerating into their routine of wrangle. 
Always confronted by this imperturbable, deaf and 
blind " generosity," the day would end in the usual 
senseless " draw." His words still remained unsaid. 

" Bertha, listen. Let us, just for fun, throw all 
this overboard. I mean the cargo of inflated soul- 
stuff that makes us go statelily, no doubt, but — 
Haven't we quarrelled enough, and said these things 
often enough ? Our quarrels have been our undoing. 

53 



A long chain of little quarrels has bound us down. 
We should neither of us be here if it hadn't been for 
them." 

Bertha gazed at Tarr half wonderingly. She 
realized that something out of the ordinary was on 
foot. 

Tarr proceeded. 

11 I have accepted from you a queer sentimental 
dialect of life, I should have insisted on your express- 
ing yourself in a more logical and metropolitan 
speech. Let us drop it. There is no need to talk 
negro, baby-talk, or hybrid drivel from no-man's-land. 
I don't think we should lead a very pleasant married 
life — naturally. In the second place, you are not a 
girl who wants an intrigue, but to marry. I have 
been playing at fiance with a certain pleasure in the 
novelty, but I experience a genuine horror at the 
possible consequences. I have been playing with 
you ! " 

He said this eagerly, as though it were a point in 
his argument — as it was. He paused, for effect 
apparently. 

" You, for your part, Bertha, don't do yourself 
justice when you are acting. I am in the same 
position. I feel this. My ill-humour occasionally 
falls in your direction — yours, for its part, falling in 
mine when I criticize your acting. We don't act well 
together, and that's a fact ; though I'm sure we 
should be smooth enough allies off the boards of love. 
Your heart, Bertha, is in the right place ; ah, ?a " 

" You are too kind ! " 

"But— but I will go further! At the risk of 
appearing outrageously paradoxical. This heart in 
question is so much part of your intelligence, 
too " 

" Thanks ! Thanks ! " 

" — despite your execrable fatuity as an actress ! 
Your shrewdness and goodness give each other the 
hand. — But to return to my point. I had always 
till I met you regarded marriage as a thing beyond 
all argument not for me. I was unusually isolated 

54 



from this idea, anyway ; I had never even reflected 
what marriage was. You introduced me to marriage ! 
In so doing you are responsible for all our troubles. 
The approach of this horrible thing, so surprisingly 
pleasant and friendly at nearer sight, caused revulsion 
of feeling beyond my control, resulting in sudden 
fianfailles. Like a woman luxuriously fingering some 
merchant's goods, too dear for her, or not wanted 
enough for the big price, so I philandered with the 
idea of marriage." 

This simplification put things, merely, in a new 
callous light. Tarr felt that she must naturally be 
enjoying, too, his points. He forgot to direct his 
exposition in such a way as to hurt her least. This 
trivial and tortured landscape had a beauty for him 
he could have explained, where her less developed 
sense saw nothing but a harrowing reality. 

The lunch had had the same effect on him that it 
was intended to have on his victim ; not enough to 
overthrow his resolution, but enough to relax its 
form. 

As to Bertha, this seemed, in the main, " Sorbet 
all over." There was nothing new. There was the 
11 difference." But it was the familiar process ; he 
was attempting to convince himself, heartlessly, on 
her. Whether he would ever manage it was prob- 
lematic. There was no sign of his being likely to do 
so more to-day than any other day. She listened ; 
sententiously released him from time to time. 

Just as she had seemed strange to him in some way 
when he came in, seen through his " indifference," 
so he had appeared a little odd to her. This had 
wiped off the dullness of habit for a moment. This 
husband she obstinately wanted had been recognized. 
She had seized him round the shoulders and clung to 
him, as though he had been her child that some 
senseless force were about to snatch. 

As to his superstition about marriage — was it not 
merely restlessness of youth, propaganda of Liberty, 
that a year or so would see in Limbo ? For was he 
not a " marrying man " ? She was sure of it ! She 

55 



had tried not to frighten him, and to keep " Marriage " 
in the background. 

So Tarr's disquisition had no effect except for one 
thing. When he spoke of pleasure he derived from 
idea of marriage, she wearily pricked up her ears. 
The conviction that Tarr was a domesticated animal 
was confirmed from his own lips. The only result of 
his sortie was to stimulate her always vigilant hope 
and irony, both, just a little. He had intended to 
prepare the couch for her despair ! 

His last words, affirming Marriage to be a game 
not worth the candle, brought a faint and " weary " 
smile to her face. She was once more, obviously, 
an bout de force. 

" Sorbert ; I understand you. Do realize that. 
There is no necessity for all this rigmarole with me. 
If you think you shouldn't marry — why, it's quite 
simple ! Don't think that I would force you to 
marry ! Oh, no ! " (The training guttural unctuous 
accent she had in speaking English filled her discourse 
with natural emphasis.) "I always said that you were 
too young. You need a wife. You've just said 
yourself about your feeling for marriage. But you 
are so young ! " She gazed at him with compas- 
sionate, half- smiling moistened look, as though there 
were something deformed about being so young. A 
way she had was to treat anything that obviously 
pointed to her as the object of pity, as though it 
manifestly indicated, on the contrary, Mm. " Yes, 
Sorbet, you are right," she finished briskly. " I 
think it would be madness for us to marry ! " 

A suggestion that their leisurely journey towards 
marriage was perhaps a mistake was at once seriously, 
and with conviction far surpassing that he had 
ventured on, taken up by her. She would imme- 
diately call a halt, pitch tents preliminary to turning 
back. A pause was necessary before beginning the 
return journey. Next day they would be jogging on 
again in the same disputed direction. 

Tarr now saw at once what had happened. His 
good words had been lost, all except his confession to 

56 



a weakness for the matronly blandishments of 
Matrimony. He had an access of stupid, brief, and 
blatant laughter. 

As people have wondered what was at the core of 
the world, basing their speculations on what deepest 
things occasionally emerge, with violence, at its 
holes, so Bertha often conjectured what might be at 
the heart of Tarr. Laughter was the most apparently 
central substance that, to her knowledge, had 
incontrollably appeared. She had often heard gronde- 
ments, grumblings, quite literally, and seen unpleasant 
lights, belonging, she knew, to other categories of 
matter. But they never broke cover. 

At present this gaiety was interpreted as proof that 
she had been right. There was nothing in what he 
had said. It had been only one of his bad fits of 
rebellion. 

But laughter Tarr felt was retrogression. Laughter 
must be given up. He must in some way, for both 
their sakes, lay at once the foundations of an ending. 

For a few minutes he played with the idea of 
affecting her weapons. Perhaps it was not only 
impossible to overcome, but even to approach, or to 
be said to be on the same field with, this peculiar 
amazon, without such uniformity of engines of attack 
or defence. Should not he get himself a mask like 
hers at once, and follow suit with some emphatic 
sentence ? He stared uncertainly at her. Then he 
sprang to his feet. He intended, as far as he could 
see beyond this passionate movement (for he must 
give himself up to the mood, of course) to pace the 
room. But his violence jerked out of him a shout of 
laughter. He went stamping about the floor roaring 
with reluctant mirth. It would not come out 
properly, too, except the first outburst. 

" Ay. That's right ! Go on ! Go on ! " Bertha's 
patient irony seemed to gibe. 

This laughter left him vexed with himself, like a 
fit of tears. "Humour and pathos are such near 
twins, that Humour may be exactly described as the 
most feminine attribute of man, and the only one of 

57 



which women show hardly any trace ! Jokes are like 
snuff, a slatternly habit," said Tarr to Butcher once, 
" whereas tragedy (and tears) is like tobacco, much 
drier and cleaner. . Comedy being always the embryo 
of Tragedy, the directer nature weeps. Women are 
of course directer than men. But they have not the 
same resources." 

Butcher blinked. He thought of his resources, 
and remembered his inclination to tears. 



Tarr's disgust at this electric rush of sound made 
him turn it on her. He was now put at a fresh 
disadvantage. How could he ever succeed in making 
Bertha believe that a person who laughed immode- 
rately meant what he said? Under the shadow of this 
laugh all his ensuing acts or words must toil, dis- 
credited in advance. 

Desperately ignoring accidents, he went back 
beyond his first explosion, and attacked its cause — 
indicting Bertha, more or less, as responsible for the 
disturbance. 

He sat down squarely in front of her, hardly 
breathed from his paroxysm, getting launched without 
transition. He hoped, by rapid plunging from one 
state to another, to take the wind out of the laugh's 
sails. It should be left towering, spectral, but 
becalmed, behind. 

" I don't know from which side to approach you, 
Bertha. You frequently complain of my being 
thoughtless and spoilt. But your uncorked solemnity 
is far more frivolous than anything I can manage. — 
Excuse me, of course, for speaking in this way ! — 
Won't you come down from your pedestal just for a 
few minutes ? " And he " sketched," in French 
idiom, a gesture, as though offering her his hand. 

" My dear Sorbert, I feel far from being on any 
pedestal ! There's too little of the pedestal, if 
anything, about me. Eeally, Sorbet," (she leant 
towards him with an abortive movement as though 
to take his hand) "I am your friend ; believe me I " 

58 



(Last words very quick, with nod of head and blink 
of eyes.) " You worry yourself far too much. Don't 
do so. You are in no way bound to me. If you 
think we should part — let us part ! " 

The " let us part ! " was precipitate, strenuous 
Prussian, almost truculent. 

Tarr thought : " Is it cunning, stupidity, disease 
or what ? " 

She continued of a sudden, shunting on to another 
track of generosity : 

" But I agree. Let us be franker. We waste too 
much time talking, talking. You are different to-day, 
Sorbet. What is it ? If you have met somebody 
else " 

11 If I had I'd tell you. There is besides nobody 
else to meet. You are unique ! " 

" Some one's been saying something to you " 

" No. I've been saying something to somebody 
else. But it's the same thing." 

With half-incredulous, musing, glimmering stare 
she drew in her horns. 

Tarr meditated. " I should have known that. I 
am asking her for something that she sees no reason 
to give up. Next her gout for me, it is the most 
valuable thing she possesses. It is indissolubly 
mixed up with the gout. The poor heightened self 
she laces herself into is the only consolation for me 
and all the troubles I spring on her. And I ask her 
brutally to ' come down from her pedestal.' I owe 
even a good deal to that pedestal, I expect, as regards 
her gout. This blessed protection Nature has given 
her, I, a minute or two before leaving her, make a 
last inept attempt to capture or destroy. Her good 
sense is contemptuous and indignant. It is only in 
defence of this ridiculous sentimentality that she has 
ever shown her teeth. This illusion has enabled her 
to bear things so long. It now stands ready with 
Indian impassibility to manoeuvre her over the falls 
or rapids of Parting. The scientific thing to do, I 
suppose, my intention being generous, would be to 
flatter and increase in some way this idea of herself. 

59 



I should give her some final and extraordinary 
opportunity of being ■ noble.' " 

He looked at her a moment, in search of inspiration. 

" I must not be too vain. I exaggerate the 
gravity of the hit. As to my attempted rape — see 
how I square up when she shows signs of annexing 
my illusion. We are really the whole time playing a 
game of grabs and dashes at each other's fairy 
vestment of Imagination. Only hers makes her very 
fond of me, whereas mine makes me see any one but 
her. Perhaps this is why I have not been more 
energetic in my prosecution of the game, and have 
allowed her to remain in her savage semi-naked state 
of pristine balderdash. Why has she never tried to 
modify herself in direction of my ' taste ' ? From 
not daring to leave this protective fanciful self, while 
I still kept all my weapons ? Then her initiative. 
She does nothing it is the man's place to do. She 
remains ' woman ' as she would say. Only she is so 
intensely alive in her passivity, so maelstromlike in 
her surrender, so cataclysmic in her sacrifice, that 
very little remains to be done. The man's position 
is a mere sinecure. Her charm for me." 

To cover reflection, he set himself to finish lunch. 
The strawberries were devoured mechanically, with 
unhungry itch to clear the plate. He had become 
just a devouring-machine, restless if any of the little 
red balls still remained in front of it. 

Bertha's eyes sought to carry her out of this 
Present. But they had broken down, depositing 
her, so to speak, somewhere half-way down the 
avenue. 

Tarr got up, a released automaton, and walked to 
the cloth-covered box where he had left his hat and 
stick. Then he returned in some way dutifully and 
obediently to the same seat, sat there for a minute, 
hat on knee. He had gone over and taken it up 
without thinking. He only realized, once back, what 
it meant. Nothing was settled, he had so far done 
more harm than good. The presence of the hat and 
stick on his knees, however, was like the holding open 

60 



of the front door already. Anything said with them 
there could only be like words said as an afterthought, 
on the threshold. It was as though, hat on head, he 
were standing with his hand on the door-knob, about 
to add some trifle to a thing already fixed. He got 
up, walked back to where he had picked up the hat 
and stick, placed them as they were before, then 
returned to the window. 

What should be done now ? He seemed to have 
played all his fifty -two cards. Everything to " be 
done " looked behind him, not awaiting him at all. 
That passive pose of Bertha's was not encouraging. 
It had lately withstood stoically a good deal, was 
quite ready to absorb still more. There was some- 
thing almost pugnacious in so much resignation. 

But when she looked up at him there was no sign 
of combat. She appeared stilled to something simple 
again, by some fluke of a word. For the second 
time that day she had jumped out of her skin. 

Her heart beat in a delicate, exhausted way, her 
eyelids became moistened underneath, as she turned 
So her unusual fianc6. They had wandered, she felt, 
into a drift of silence that hid a distant and unpleasant 
prospect at the end of it. It seemed suddenly 
charged with some alarming fancy that she could 
not grasp. There was something more unusual than 
her fianc& The circular storm, in her case, was 
returning. 

" WeU, Sorbet ? " 

" Well. What is it ? " 

" Why don't you go ? I thought you'd gone. It 
seems so funny to see you standing there. What are 
you staring at me f or % " 

" Don't be silly." 

She looked down with a wild demureness, her head 
on one side. 

Her mouth felt some distance from her brain. Her 
voice stood on tiptoe like a dwarf to speak. She 
became very much impressed by her voice, and was 
rather afraid to say anything more. Had she 
fainted % Sorbert was a stranger. The black stubble 

61 



on his chin and brown neck appeared like the 
symptoms of a disease that repelled her. She 
noticed something criminal and quick in his eyes. 
She became nervous, as though she had admitted 
somebody too trustingly to her rooms. This fancy 
played on her hysteria, and she really wanted him 
to go. 

"Why don't you go? " she repeated, in a pleasant 
voice. 

Tarr remained silent, seemingly determined not to 
answer. 

Meantime he looked at her with a doubtful dislike. 

What is love ? he began reasoning. It is either 
possession or a possessive madness. In the case of 
men and women, it is the obsession of a personality. 
He had presumably been endowed with the power of 
awaking love in her. He had something to accuse 
himself of. He had been afraid of giving up or 
repudiating this particular madness. To give up 
another person's love is a mild suicide ; like a very 
bad inoculation as compared to the full disease. His 
tenderness for Bertha was due to her having purloined 
some part of himself, and covered herself super- 
ficially with it as a shield. Her skin at least was 
Tarr. She had captured a bit of him, and held it as 
a hostage. She was rapidly transforming herself, 
too, into a slavish dependency. She worked with all 
the hypocrisy of a great instinct. 

People can wound by loving ; the sympathy of 
this affection is interpenetrative. Love performs its 
natural miracle, and they become part of us ; it is a 
dismemberment to cast them off. Our own blood 
flows out after them when they go. 

Or love was a malady ; it was dangerous to live 
with those consumed by it. He felt an uneasiness. 
Might not a wasting and restlessness ensue ? It 
would not, if he caught it, be recognizable as love. 
Perhaps he had already got it slightly. That might 
account for his hanging about her. He evidently 
was suffering from something that came from Bertha. 

Everybody, however, all personality, was catching. 
62 



We all are sicknesses for each other. Such contact 
as he had with Bertha was particularly risky. Their 
photographs he had just been looking at displayed 
an unpleasant solidarity. Was it necessary to allege 
" love " at all ? The word was superfluous in his 
case. The fact was before him. 

He felt suddenly despondent and afraid of the 
Future. He had fallen beneath a more immediate 
infection. 

He looked attentively round the room. His 
memory already ached. She had loved him with all 
this. She had loved him with the plaster cast of 
Beethoven, attacked him with the Klingers, ambushed 
him from the Breton jars, in a funny, superficial, 
absorbing way. Her madness had muddled every- 
thing with his ideal existence. It wasn't like leaving 
an ordinary room you had spent pleasant hours in 
and would regret. You would owe nothing to that, 
and it could not pursue you with images of wrong. 
This room he was wronging, and left it in a different 
way. She seemed, too, so humble in it, or through 
it. The appeal of the little again. If he could only 
escape from scale. The price of preoccupation with 
the large was this perpetual danger from the little. 
He wished he could look coldly on mere littleness, 
and not want to caress and protect it when it was 
human. Brutality was no doubt necessary for people 
like him. Love was too new to him. He was not 
inoculated enough with love. 

He had callously been signing his name to a series 
of brutalities, then, as though he were sure that 
when the time came he would have a quite sufficient 
stock of coldness to meet these debts. Yet he had 
known from the first that he had not. Eventually 
he would have to evade them or succumb. The 
flourishes of the hand and mind had caused Bertha's 
mute and mournful attitude. She thought she knew 
him, but was amazed at his ignorance or pretence. 

So he had now brought this new element into 
relief. For the last hour he had been accumulating 
difficulties, or rather unearthing some new one at 

63 



every step. Impossible to tackle en masse, they 
were all there before him. The thought of " settling 
everything before he went," now appeared monstrous. 
He had, anyhow, started these local monsters and 
demons, fishing them to the light. Each had a 
different vocal explosiveness or murmur, inveighing 
unintelligibly against each other. The only thing to 
be done was to herd them all together and march 
them away for inspection at leisure. 

Sudden herdsman, with the care of a delicate and 
antediluvian flock ; well ! — But what was Bertha to 
be told ? Nothing. He would file out silently with 
his flock, without any hornblasts or windings such as 
he customarily affected. 

" I am going now," he said at last, getting up. 

She looked at him with startled interest. 

" You are leaving me, Sorbet ? " 

"No. At least, now I am going." He stooped 
down for his hat and cane. " I will come and see 
you to-morrow or the day after." 

Closing the door quietly, with a petty carefulness, 
he crossed the passage, belittled and guilty. He did 
not wish to escape this feeling. It would be better 
to enhance it. For a moment it occurred to him to 
go back and offer marriage. It was about all he had 
to offer. He was ashamed of his only gift ! But he 
did not stop, he opened the front door and went 
downstairs. Something raw and uncertain he seemed 
to have built up in the room he had left. How long 
would it hold together % Again he was acting in 
secret, his errand and intentions kept to himself. 
Something followed him like a restless dog. 



64 



PART II 

DOOMED, EVIDENTLY. THE " FEAC " 

CHAPTEE I 

From his window in the neighbouring boulevard 
Kreisler's eye was fixed blankly on a spot thirty feet 
above the scene of the Hobson-Tarr dialogue. He 
was shaving himself, one eye fixed on Paris. It 
beat on this wall of Paris drearily. Had it been 
endowed with properties of illumination and been 
directed there earlier in the day, it would have 
served as a desolate halo for Tarr's ratiocination. 
For several days Kreisler's watch had been in the 
Mont de Pi6te. Until some clock struck he was in 
total ignorance of the time of day. 

The late spring sunshine flooded, like a bursted 
tepid star, the pink boulevard. The people beneath 
crawled like wounded insects of cloth. A two-story 
house terminating the Boulevard Pfeiffer covered the 
lower part of the Cafe Berne. 

Kreisler's room looked like some funeral vault. 
Shallow, ill-lighted, and extensive, it was placarded 
with nude and archaic images, painted on strips of 
canvas fixed to the wall with drawing-pins. Imagin- 
ing yourself in some Asiatic dwelling of the dead, 
with the portraits of the deceased covering the holes 
in which they had respectively been thrust, you would, 
following your fancy, have turned to Kreisler seeking 
to see in him some devout recluse who had taken 
up his quarters there. 

65 E 



Kreisler was in a sense a recluse (although almost 
certainly the fancy would have gasped and fallen at 
his contact). But caf^s were the luminous caverns 
where he could be said, most generally, to dwell ; 
with, nevertheless, very little opening of the lips and 
much recueillement or meditation ; therefore not 
unworthy of some rank among the inferior and less 
fervent solitudes. 

A bed like an overturned cupboard, dark, and 
with a red billow of cloth and feathers covering it 
entirely ; a tesselated floor of dark red tile ; a little 
rug, made with paint, carpet, cardboard, and horse- 
hair, to represent a leopard — these, with chair, wash- 
stand, easel, and several weeks' of slowly drifting and 
shifting garbage, completed its contents. 

Kreisler flicked the lather on to a crumpled news- 
paper, with an irresponsible gesture. Each time his 
razor was raised he looked at himself with a peering 
vacancy. His face had long become a piece of 
troublesome meat. Life did not each day deposit 
an untidiness that could be whisked off by a Gillette 
blade, as Nature did its stubble. 

His face, it is true, wore like a uniform the frowning 
fixity of the Prussian warrior. But it was such a rig- 
out as the Captain of Koepenich must have worn, 
and would take in nobody but a Teutonic squad. 
The true German seeks every day, by little acts of 
boorishness, to keep fresh this trenchant Prussian 
attitude ; just as the German student, with his weekly 
routine of duels, keeps courage simmering in times of 
peace, that it may instantly boil up to war pitch 
at the least sign from his Emperor. 

He brushed his clothes in a sulky, vigorous way, 
like a silent, discontented domestic of a shabby, lonely 
master. He cleaned his glasses with the absorption 
and tenderness of the short-sighted. Next moment 
he was gazing through them, straddled on his flat 
Slav nose — brushing up whimsical moustaches over 
pouting mouth. This was done with two tiny ivory 
brushes taken out of a small leather case — present 
from a fiancee who had been alarmed that his 

66 



moustaches showed an unpatriotic tendency to 
droop. 

This old sweetheart just then disagreeably occupied 
his mind. But he busied himself about further items 
of toilet with increased precision. To a knock he 
answered with careful " Come in." He did not take 
his eyes from the glass, spotted blue tie being pinched 
into position. He watched with impassibility above 
and around his tie the entrance of a young woman. 

" Good morning. So you're up already," she said 
in French. 

He treated her as coolly as he had his thoughts. 
Appearing just then, she gave his manner towards 
the latter something human to play on, with relief. 
Imparting swanlike undulations to a short stout 
person, eye fixed quizzingly on Kreisler's in the glass, 
she advanced. Her manner was one seldom sure of 
welcome, a little deprecatingly aggressive. She owned 
humorously a good-natured face with protruding eyes, 
gesticulated with, filling her silences with explosive 
significance. Brows always raised. A soul made 
after the image of injuries. A skin which w^ould 
become easily blue in cold weather was matched with 
a taste in dress inveterately blue. The Pas de Calais 
had somehow produced her. Paris, shortly after- 
wards, had put the mark of its necessitous millions 
on a mean, lively child. 

" Are you going to work to-day ? " came in a 
minute or two. 

11 No," he replied, putting his jacket on. " Do you 
want me to ? " 

11 It would be of certain use. But don't put your- 
self out," with grin tightening all the skin of her 
face, making it pink and bald and her eyes 
drunken. 

"I'm afraid I can't." Watched with sort of 
appreciative raillery, he got down on his knees and 
dragged a portmanteau from beneath the bed. 
11 Susanna, what can I get on that ? " he asked simply, 
as of an expert. 

" Ah, that's where we are ? You want to pawn 
67 



this ? I don't know, I'm sure. Perhaps they'd give 
yon fifteen francs. It's good leather." 

11 Perhaps twenty f " he asked. " I must have 
them ! " he clamoured of a sudden, with energy that 
astonished her. 

She grimaced, looked very serious ; said, " Je ne 
sais pas, vous savez ! " w r ith several vigorous, yet 
rhythmical and rich, forward movements of the head. 
She became the broker : Kreisler was pressing for a 
sum in excess of regulations. Not for the world, 
any more than had she been the broker in fact, would 
she have valued it at a penny over what it seemed 
likely to fetch. 

" Je ne sais pas, vous savez ! " she repeated. She 
looked even worried. She would have liked to please 
Kreisler by saying more, but her business conscience 
prevented her. 

" Well, we'll go together." 

This conversation was carried on strictly in dialect. 
Suzanne understood him, for she was largely respon- 
sible for the lingo in which Kreisler carried on conver- 
sation with the French. This young woman had no 
fixed occupation. She disappeared for periods to 
live with men. She sat as a model. 

" Your father hasn't sent yet ? " He shook his 
head. 

" Le cochon ! " she stuttered. 

" But it will come to-morrow, or the day after, 
anyway." The idiosyncrasies of these monthly letters 
were quite familiar to her. The dress-clothes had 
been pawned by her on a former occasion. 

" What do you need twenty francs f or ? " 

" I must have, not twenty, but twenty-five." 

Her silence was as eloquent as face-muscles and 
eye-fluid could make it. 

" To get the dress-clothes out," he explained, fixing 
her stolidly with his eye. 

She first smiled slowly, then allowed her ready 
mirth to grow, by mechanical stages, into laughter. 
The presence of this small, indifferent, and mercenary 
acquaintance irritated him. But he remained cool. 

68 



Just then a church clock began striking. He fore- 
boded it was already ten, but not later. It struck 
ten and then eleven. He leapt the hour — the clock 
seemed rushing with him, in a second, to the more 
advanced hour — without any flurry, quite calmly. 
Then it struck twelve. He at once absorbed that 
further hour as he had the former. He lived an hour 
as easily and carelessly as he would have lived a 
second. Could it have gone on striking he would 
have swallowed, without turning a hair, twenty, 
thirty strokes ! 

Going out with Suzanne, he turned the key care- 
fully in the door. The concierge or landlord might 
slip in and fire his things out in his absence. 

The portmanteau, whisked up from the floor, 
flopped along with him like a child's slack balloon. 
He frowned at Suzanne and, prepared for surprises, 
went warily down the stairs. 

He had felt a raw twinge of anger as he had opened 
the door, looking down at the first boards of his room. 
A half an hour before, on waking, he had sat up in 
bed and gazed at the crevice at its foot where a 
letter, thrust underneath by the concierge, usually 
lay. He had stared as though it had been a shock 
to find nothing. That little square of rich bright 
white paper was what he had counted on night to give 
him — that he had expected to find on waking, as 
though it were a secretion of those long hours. It 
made him feel that there had been no night — long, 
fecund, rich in surprises — but merely a barren moment 
of sleep. A stale and garish continuation of yester- 
day, no fresh day at all, had dawned. The chill and 
phlegmatic appearance of his room annoyed him. 
It was its inhospitable character that repelled the 
envelope pregnant with revolutionary joy and serried 
German marks. Its dead unchangeableness must 
preclude all innovation. This spell of monotony on 
his life he could not break. The room cut him off 
from the world. He gazed around as a man may 
eye a wife whom he suspects of intercepting his 
correspondence. There was no reason why the letter 

69 



with his monthly remittance should have come on 
that particular morning, already eight days overdue. 

" If I had a father like yours ! " said Suzanne in 
menacing, humorous sing-song, eyes bulging and head 
nodding. At this vista of perpetual blackmail she 
fell into a reverie. 

"Never get your father off on your fiancee, Su- 
zanne ! " Kreisler advised in reply. 

II Comment ? " Suzanne did not understand, and 
pulled a sour face. 

" I had a fiancee." 

" Oui. Tres bien. Tu t'es brouill6 avec elle ? " 

II I have quarrelled with her ; yes. She married 
my father. Or I married her, I may say, to my 
father. That was a mistake." 

" I believe you ! That, as you say, was careless ! 
You don't get on well with her ? " 

" I never see her." 

" You never go home ? " 

Kreisler was too proud to reply to Suzanne very 
often. He marched on, staring severely ahead. 

" How long ago is it that you — how long have you 
had that stepmother? " 

" My father married four years ago." 

" Married your — girl % " 

" That's it." 

" And that's why you have trouble ? She makes 
the trouble. She is at the bottom of the trouble ? 
Ah ! You never told me that. Now I understand 
why. What's she like ? Is she nice % " 

" Not bad." 

They got near the Berne. 

" Let's have a cup of coffee," Kreisler said. 

Suzanne sat down — with the hiding of her red 
hands, her guilty lofty silence, eyebrows raised as 
though with a slimy pescine enamel, inducing an 
impression of nefarious hurry and impermanence. 
Kreisler was sour and full of himself. His bag 
looked as though it should hold the properties or 
merchandise of some illicit trade or amusement. 

Suzanne seemed to triumph at this information. 
70 



She pressed and pressed in breathless undertone, 
fascinated by something. Family dramas, of all 
dramas, she had the expertest interest in. 

" You remember the time I had to send three letters 
to the old devil ? " 

" Of course ! Three months ago, you mean ? " 
Suzanne had taken a near and serious interest in 
Otto's financial arrangements. She remembered dates 
well, apart from that. 

Otto did not proceed for some time. She stared 
quizzingly and patiently past the tip of his nose. 

" He then asked me to give up art. He told me 
of two posts in German firms that were vacant. 
That was her doing, the swine ! One was a station - 
restaurant business." 

" You refused ! " 

" I didn't reply at all." 

In this his methods were very similar to his father's. 
The elder Kreisler had repeatedly infuriated his son, 
calculating on such effect, by sending his allowance 
only when written for, and even then neglecting his 
appeal for several days. It came frequently wrapped 
up in bits of newspapers, and his letters of demand 
and expostulation were never answered. On two 
occasions forty marks and thirty marks respectively 
,had been deducted, merely as an irritative measure. 

" Dites ! Whv don't you write to your step- 
mother ? " 

II Write to her ? No, I won't write to her." 

" P'raps she wants you to. I should. Why don't 
you write to her ? " 

II I shall before — I shall some dav ! " 
" Before what ? " 

" Oh, before " 

Suzanne once more glimmered into the absurd 
distance. 

11 He will send, I suppose ? " 

" Now — ? Yes, I suppose sooner or later it will 
turn up." 

' ■ If it didn't what would you do ? You think it's 
your stepmother who does it 1 Why don't you 

71 



manage her ? Yon are stupid. You must allow me 
to tell you that." 

Kreisler knew the end was not far off ; this might 
be it. So much the better ! 

Kreisler's student days — a lifetime in itself — had 
unfitted him, at the age of thirty -six, for practically 
anything. He had only lost one picture so far. 
This senseless solitary purchase depressed him when- 
ever he thought of it. How dreary that cheque for 
four pounds ten was ! Who could have bought it ? 
It sold joylessly and fatally one day in an exhibition. 



CHAPTEE II 

Nine months previously Kreisler had arrived in Paris 
at the Gare de Lyon, from Italy. He had left 
Eome, according to his account, because the Italian 
creditor is such a bad-tempered fellow, and he could 
never get any sleep after 8 — or latterly 7.30 — even, 
in the morning. 

" Dear Colleague, — Expect me Thursday. 
I am at last quitting this wretched city. I hope 
that the room you mentioned is still free. Will 
come at once to your address. With many 
hearty greetings, — Yours, 

Otto Kreisler." 

He had dispatched this note before leaving to a 
Herr Ernst Volker. — For some time he stood on the 
Paris platform, ulster thrown back, smoking a lean 
cigar, with a straw stuck in it. He was glad to be 
in Paris. How busy the women, intent on travel, 
were ! Groups of town-folk, not travellers, stood 
like people at a show. Each traveller was met 
by a phalanx of uninterested faces beyond the 
gangway. 

His standing on the platform was a little cere- 
monious and military. He was taking his bearings. 

72 



Body and belongings with him were always moved 
about with certain strategy. At last, with racial 
menace, he had his things swept together, saying 
heavily : 

" Un viagre ! " 

Ernst Volker was not in, but had left word he 
would be there after dinner. It was in a pension. 
He rented a studio as well in the garden behind. The 
house was rather like a French Public Baths, two- 
storied, of a dirty purple colour. Kreisler looked 
up at it and felt that a very public sort of people 
must live there, looking big and idle in their rooms 
and constantly catching the eye of the stranger on 
the pavement. He was led to the studio in rear of 
the house, and asked to wait. 

He turned round several long canvases and was 
astonished to find dashing ladies in large hats before 
him. 

"Ha ha! Well, I'm damned! Bravo, Ernst!" 
he exploded in his dull solitude, extremely amused. 

Volker had not done this in Eome. — Even there he 
had given indications of latent virtuosity, but had 
been curbed by classic presences. Since arriving 
in Paris he had blossomed prodigiously. He dealt 
out a vulgar vitality by the peck to each sitter, 
and they forgave him for making them comparatively 
" ugly." He flung a man or woman on to nine feet 
of canvas and pummelled them on it for a couple 
of hours, until they promised to remain there or were 
incapable of moving, so to speak. He had never 
been able to treat people like this in any other way of 
life, and was grateful to painting for the experience. 
He always appeared to feel he would be expected to 
apologize for his brutal behaviour as an artist, and 
was determined not to do so. 

A half -hour later, on his return, the servant 
told him somebody was waiting in the studio. With 
face not exhibiting joyful surprise, but rather 
the collected look of a man of business arriving 
at his office, he walked out quickly across the 
garden. 

73 



When lie saw Kreisler the business look disappeared. 
Nothing of his private self remained for the moment, 
all engulfed in his friend's personality. 

"But, Ernst! What beautiful pictures! What 
pleasant company you left me to wait amongst ! — 
How are you ? I am glad to see you again ! " 

" Had a good journey ? Your letter amused me ! — 
So Eome became too hot ? " 

A little ! My dear chap, it was eine ganz ver- 
dammte klemme ! In this last scuffle I lost — but I 
lost ! — half the clothes off my back ! But chiefly 
Italian clothes ; that is fortunate ! " 

" Why didn't you write ? " 

" Oh, it wasn't serious enough to call for help." 
He dismissed the out-of-date notion at once ! — 
" This is a nice place you've got." — Kreisler looked 
round as though measuring it. He noticed Volker's 
discomfort. He felt he was examining something 
more intimate than the public aspect of a dwelling. 
It was as though his friend were expecting a wife, 
whom Kreisler had not met, to turn up suddenly. 

" Have you dined ? — I waited until eight. Have 
you . . . ? " 

" I should like something to eat. Can we get 
anything here ? " 

" I'm afraid not. — It's rather late for this neigh- 
bourhood. Let's take these things to your room — on 
the way — and go to the Grands Boulevards." 

They stayed till the small hours of the morning, 
in the midst of " Paris by Night " of the German 
bourgeois imagination, drinking champagne and 
toasting the creditors Kreisler had left behind in 
Eome. 

Kreisler, measured by chairs or doors, was of im- 
moderate physical humanity. He was of that select 
section, corporally, that exceed the mean. His 
long round thighs stuck out like poles. This large 
body lounged and poised beside Volker in massive 
control and over-reaching of civilized matter. It 
was in Eome or in Paris. It had an air of possession 
everywhere. Volker was stranger in Paris than his 

74 



companion, who had only just arrived. He felt a 
little raw and uncomfortable, almost a tourist. He 
was being shown " Paris by Night " ; almost literally, 
for his inclinations had not taken him much to that 
side of the town. 

Objects — cocottes, newsvendors, waiters — flowed 
through Kreisler's brain without trouble or surprise. 
His heavy eyes were big gates of a self-centred city. 
It was just a procession. There was no trade in the 
town. 

He was a property of Nature, or a favourite slave, 
untidy and aloof. Kreisler so real and at home was 
like a ghost sitting there beside him, for Ernst Volker. 
He had not had the time to solidify yet in Paris by 
all rights, and yet was so solid and accustomed at 
once. This body was in Paris now ! — with an heroic 
freedom. 

Volker began looking for himself. He was only 
made of cheap thin stuff. He picked up the pieces 
quietly. This large rusty machine of a man smashed 
him up like an egg-shell at every meeting. His shell 
grew quickly again, but never got hard enough. 

He was glad to see him again ! Kreisler was a good 
fellow. — Despite himself Ernst Volker was fidgety at 
the lateness of the hour. The next day Fraulein 
Bodenaar, who was sitting for him, was due at 9.30. 
But the first night of seeing his friend again — He 
drank rather more than usual, and became silent, 
thinking of his Westphalian home and his sister who 
was not very well. She had had a bicycle accident, 
and had received a considerable shock. He might 
spend the summer with her and his mother at Berck- 
sur-Mer or Calais. He would have gone home for a 
week or so now, only an aunt he did not like was 
staying there. 

" Well, let's get back ! " said Kreisler, rather 
thoughtful, too, at all the life he had seen. 



75 



CHAPTEE III 

In Paris Ernst Volker had found himself. It 
seemed especially constructed for him, such a won- 
derful, large, polite institution. No one looked at 
him because he was small. For money in Paris 
represented delicate things, in Germany chiefly 
gross ones. His money lent him more stature than 
anything else could, and in a much more dignified 
and subtle way than elsewhere. His talent benefited 
for the first time by his money. Heavy tempera- 
ment, primitive talent, had their big place, but money 
had at last come into its own and got into the spiritual 
sphere. A very sensible and soothing spirit reigned 
in this seat of intelligence. A very great number of 
sensible, well-dressed figures perambulated all over 
these suave acres. Large tribes of " types " prose- 
cuted their primitive enthusiasms in certain cafes, 
unannoyed by either the populace or the differently 
minded 61ite. The old romantic values he was used 
to in his Fatherland were all deeply modified. Money 
— that is luck and its power — was the genius of the 
new world. American clothes were adapted for the 
finer needs of the Western European. 

On the evening following Kreisler's arrival Volker 
had an engagement. The morning after that Kreisler 
turned up at half -past twelve. Volker was painting 
Fraulein Bodenaar. She was very smartly dressed, 
in a tight German way. He displayed a disinclina- 
tion to make Kreisler and his sitter acquainted. 
He was a little confused. They arranged to meet at 
dinner-time. He was going to lunch with Fraulein 
Bodenaar. 

Kreisler the night before had spent a good deal 
of money in the German paradise beyond the river. 
Volker understood by the particular insistent blank - 
ness of Kreisler's eye that money was needed. He 
was familiar with this look. Kreisler owed him 
fifteen hundred marks. He had at first made an 
effort to pay back Volker money borrowed, when 

76 



his allowance arrived. But in Borne, and earlier for 
a short time in Munich, his friend's money was not 
of so much value as it was at present. Ernst waived 
repayment in an eager, sentimental way. The debt 
grew. Kreisler had felt keenly the financial void 
caused by Volker's going off to Paris. He had not 
formulated to himself the real reason of his following 
Volker. Nor had he taken the trouble to repudiate 
it. He was now in the position of a man separated 
for some months from his wife. He was in a luxurious 
hurry to see once more the colour of Volker's gold. 

Kreisler was very touchy about money, like many 
borrowers. He sponged with discrimination. He 
had not for some time required to sponge at all, as 
Volker amply met his needs. So he had got rather 
out of practice. He found this reopening of his 
account with little friend Ernst a most delicate 
business. It was worse than tackling a stranger. 
He realized there might be a modification of Volker's 
readiness to lend. He therefore determined to ask 
for a sum in advance of actual needs, and by boldness 
at once re-establish continuity. 

After dinner he said : 

" You remember Eicci ? Where I got my paints 
the first part of the time. I had some trouble with 
that devil before I left. He came round and made a 
great scandal on the staircase. He shouted ' Bandit ! 
Ha ! ha ! Sporca la tua Madonna ! ' — how do you say 
it ? — ' Sporco Tedesco.' Then he called the neighbours 
to witness. He kept repeating he was ' not afraid 
of me.' I took him by the ear and kicked him out ! " 
he ended with florid truculence. 

Volker laughed obsequiously but with discomfort. 
Kreisler solicited his sympathetic mirth with a 
masterful eye. He laughed himself, unnecessarily 
heartily. A scene of violence in which a small man 
was hustled, which Volker would have to applaud, 
was a clever prelude. Then Otto began to be nice. 

"I am sorry for the little devil ! I shall have the 
money soon. I shall send it him. He shall not 
suffer. Antonio, too. I don't owe much. I had to 

77 



settle most before I left. Himmel ! My landlord ! " 
He choked mirthfully over his coffee a little, almost 
upsetting it, then mincingly adjusted the cup to his 
moustached lips. 

If he had to settle up before he left, he could not 
have much now, evidently ! There was a disagreeable 
pause. 

Volker stirred his coffee. He immediately showed 
his hand, for he looked up and with transparent 
innocence asked : 

" By the way, Otto, you remember Blauenstein 
at Munich ? " 

" You mean the little Jew from whom everybody 
used to borrow money ? " Kreisler fixed him severely 
and significantly with his eye and spoke with heavy 
deliberation. 

" Did people borrow money from him ? I had 
forgotten. Yes, that's the man. He has turned up 
here ; who do you think with ? With Irma, the 
Bohemian girl. They are living together — round the 
corner there " 

" Hum ! Are they ? She was a pretty little girl. 
Do you remember the night Von Gerarde was 
found stripped and tied to his door-handle ? He 
assured me Irma had done it and had pawned his 
clothes." 

Was Volker thinking that Blauenstein's famous 
and admitted function should be resorted to as an 
alternative for himself by Kreisler f 

" Volker, I can speak to you plainly ; isn't that 
so ? You are my friend. What's more, already we 
have — " he laughed strongly and easily. " My 
journey has cost the devil of a lot. I shall be getting 
my allowance in a week or so. Could you lend me 
a small sum of money. When my money comes " 

" Of course J But I am hard up. How much — ? " 
These were three jerky efforts. 

" Oh, a hundred and fifty or two hundred marks." 

Volker's jaw dropped. 

"lam afraid, my dear Kreisler, I can't — just now — 
manage that. My journey, too, cost me a lot. I'm 

78 



very sorry. Let me see. I have my rent next week t 
I don't see how I can manage " 

Volker had a clean-shaven, depressed, and earnest 
face. He had always been honest and timid. 

Kreisler looked sulkily at the tablecloth and knocked 
the ash sharply off his cigarette into his cup. 

He said nothing. Volker became nervous. 

" Will a hundred marks be of any use ? " 

" Yes." Kreisler drew his hand over his chin as 
though stroking a beard down and then pulled his 
moustaches up, fixing the waitress with an indifferent 
eye. " Can you spare that ? " 

" Well — I can't really. But if you are in such a 
position that " 

This is how he lost Volker. He felt that hundred 
marks, given him as a favour, was the last serious 
bite he would get. He only gradually realized of 
how much more worth Volker's money now was, 
and what before was an unorganized mass of specie, 
in which the professional borrower could wallow, 
was now a sound and suitably conducted business. 
He met that night the new manager. 

He was taken round to the Berne after dinner. 
He did not realize what awaited him. He found 
himself in the head-quarters of many national per- 
sonalities. Politeness reigned. Kreisler was pleased 
to find a permanent vat of German always on tap. 
His roots mixed sluggishly with Ernst's in this living 
lump of the soil of the Fatherland dumped down at 
the head of the Boulevard Pfeiffer. 

The Germans he met here spoke a language and 
expressed opinions he could not agree with, but with 
which Volker evidently did. They argued genially 
oyer glasses of beer and champagne. He found his 
ticket at once. He was the vielle barbe of the party. 

" Yes, I've seen Gaugins. But why go so far as 
the South Sea Islands unless you are going to make 
people more beautiful? Why go out of Europe? 
Why not save the money for the voyage ? " he 
would bluster. 

"More beautiful? What do you understand by 
79 



the word * beautiful,' my dear sir ! " would answer 
a voice in the service of new movements. 

" What do I call beautiful ? How would you 
like your face to be as flat as a pancake, your nostrils 
like a squashed strawberry, one of your eyes cocked 
up by the side of your ear ? Would not you be 
very unhappy to look like that ? Then how can you 
expect any one but a technique-maniac to care a 
straw for a picture of that sort — call it Cubist or 
Fauve or whatever you like ? It's all spoof. It 
puts money in somebody's pocket, no doubt." 

" It's not a question, unhappily, of how we should 
like our faces to be. It is how they are. But I do 
not consider the actual position of my eyes to be 
any more beautiful than any other position that might 
have been chosen for them. The almond eye was 
long held in contempt by the hatchet-eye " 

Kreisler peered up at him and laughed. " You're 
a modest fellow. You're not as ugly as you think ! 
Nach ! I like to find " 

" But you haven't told us, Otto, what you call 
beautiful" 

" I call this young lady here " — and he turned 
gallantly to a blushing cocotte at his side — " beautiful, 
very beautiful ! " He kissed her amid gesticulation 
and applause. 

" That's just what I supposed," his opponent said 
with appreciation. 

He did not get on well with Soltyk. Louis Soltyk 
was a young Eussian, half Polish, who occasionally 
sat amongst the Germans at the Berne. Volker saw 
more of him than anybody. It was he who had 
superseded Kreisler in the position of influence as 
regards Volker's purse. Soltyk did not borrow a 
hundred marks. His system was far more up to 
date. Ernst had experienced an unpleasant shock 
in coming into contact with Kreisler's clumsy and 
slovenly, small-scale money habits again ! Soltyk 
physically bore, distantly and with polish, a resem- 
blance to Kreisler. His handsome face and elegance 
were very different. Kreisler and he disliked each 

80 



other for obscure physiological reasons : they had 
perhaps scrapped in the dressing-rooms of creation 
for some particular fleshly covering, and each secured 
only fragments of a coveted garment. In some ways, 
then, Soltyk was his efficient and more accomplished 
counterpart, although as empty and unsatisfactory 
as himself. 

" Aber wo istder deutsche Student ? " Soltyk 
would ask, referring to him usually like that. 

" He's in good company somewhere ! " Volker 
revealed Kreisler as a lady's man. This satisfied 
Soltyk's antipathy. The Eussian kept an eye on 
Volker's pocket while Kreisler was about. He had 
not only recognized in him a mysterious and vexing 
kinship, with his instinct ; his sharper's sense, also, 
noted the signs of the professional borrower, the 
most contemptible and slatternly member of the 
crook family. In an access of sentiment Ernst asked 
his new friend to try and sell a painting of Kreisler's. 
Soltyk dealt in paintings and art objects. But 
Soltyk took him by the lapel of the coat and in a few 
words steadied him into cold sense. 

" Won ! Sois pas bete ! Here," he pulled out a 
handful of money and chose a dollar -piece. " Here — 
give him this. You buy a picture — if it's a picture 
you want to buy — of Krashunine's. Kreisler has 
nothing but Kreisler to offer. C'est peu ! " 

Ernst introduced Kreisler next to another sort of 
Paris compatriot. It was a large female contingent 
this time. He took him round to Fraulein Lipmann's 
on her evening, when these ladies played the piano 
and met. 

Kreisler felt that he was a victim of strategy. He 
puffed and swore outside, complained of their music, 
the coffee, their way of dressing. 

The Lipmann circle could have stood as a model 
for Tarr's Bourgeois -Bohemians, stood for a group. 

For chief characteristic this particular Bourgeois- 
Bohemian set had the inseparability of its members. 
Should a man, joining them, wish to flirt with one 

81 F 



particularly, he must flirt with all — flatter all, take 
all to the theatre, carry the umbrellas and paint-boxes 
of all. Eventually, should he come to that, it is 
doubtful if a proposition of marriage could be made 
otherwise than before the assembled band ! And 
marriage alone could wrench the woman chosen 
away from the clinging bunch. 

Kreisler, despite his snorting, went again with 
Volker. The female charm had done its work. This 
gregarious female personality had shown such frank 
invitation to Volker that had any separate woman ex- 
hibited half as hospitable a front he would have been 
very alarmed. As it was, it had at first just fulfilled 
certain bourgeois requirements of his lonely German 
soul. Kreisler came a few weeks running to the 
Lipmann soiree. Never finding Volker there, he left 
off going as well. He felt he had been tricked and 
slighted. The ladies divined what had happened. 
Fraulein Lipmann, the leader, put a spiteful little 
mark down to each of their names. 



CHAPTEE IV 

Kreisler pocketed Ernst's hundred marks and 
made no further attempt on the formerly hospit- 
able income of his friend. Debts began accu- 
mulating. Only he found he had grown suddenly 
timid with his creditors. The concierge fright- 
ened him. He conciliated the gargon at the cafe, 
to whom he owed money. He even paid several 
debts that it was quite unnecessary to pay, in a 
moment of panic and weakness. A straitened week 
ensued. At the Berne he had lost his nerve in some 
way ; he clowned obsequiously on some evenings, 
and, depressed and slack the next, perhaps, resented 
his companions' encores. 

Next he gradually developed the habit of sitting 
alone. More often than not he would come into the 

82 



cafe and go to a table at the opposite side of the room 
to that at which the Germans were sitting. 

Eidicule is sighted at twenty yards, the spectator 
then, without the sphere of average immediate 
magnetism. For once it does not matter, but if 
persisted in it inevitably results in humour. Those 
who keep to themselves awaken mirth as a cart- 
wheel running along the road by itself would. People 
feel with the " lonely " man that he is going about 
with some eccentric companion— that is himself. 
Why did he choose this deaf-and-dumb companion? 
What do they find to say ? He is ludicrous as two 
men would be who, perpetually in each other's 
company, were never seen to exchange a word — who 
dined together, went to theatre or caf6, without ever 
looking at each other or speaking. 

So Kreisler became a lonely figure. It was a strange 
feeling. He must be quiet and not attract attention. 
He. was marked in some way as though he had com- 
mitted a theft. Perhaps it was merely the worry of 
perpetual " tick " beginning to tell. For the moment 
he would just put himself aside and see what hap- 
pened. He was afraid of himself too. Always up 
till then immersed in that self, now for the first time 
he stood partly outside it. This slight divorce made 
him less sure in his actions. A little less careful of 
his appearance, he went sluggishly about, smoking, 
reading the paper a great deal, working at the art 
school fairly often, playing billiards with an Austrian 
cook whose acquaintance he had made in a cafe and 
who disappeared owing him seven francs. 

Volker had been a compendious phenomenon in 
his life, although his cheery gold had attracted him 
to the more complete discovery. He had ousted 
women, too, from Kreisler's daily needs. He had 
become a superstition for his tall friend. 

It was Kreisler's deadness, his absolute lack of 
any reason to be confident and yet perfect aplomb, 
that mastered his companion. But this acquired 
eventually its significance as well, for Kreisler. The 
inertia and phlegm, outward sign of depressing 

83 



everyday Kreisler, had found some one for whom they 
were a charm and something to be envied. Kreisler's 
imagination woke shortly after Volker's. It was as 
though a peasant who had always regarded his life 
as the dullest affair, were suddenly inspirited about 
himself by realizing some townsman's poetic notion 
of him. Kreisler's moody wastefulness and futility 
had found a raison d'etre and meaning. 

Ernst Volker had remained for three vague years 
becalmed on this empty sea, Kreisler basked round 
him, never having to lift his waves and clash them 
together as formerly he had been forced sometimes 
to^do. There had been no appeals to life. Volker 
had been the guarantor of his peace. His failure 
was the omen of the sinking ship, the disappearance 
of the rats ! 

Then they had never arrived at terms of friendship. 
It had been only an epic acquaintanceship, and 
Kreisler had taken him about as a parasite that he 
pretended not to notice. 

There was no question, therefore, of a reproach 
at desertion. He merely hopped off on to somebody 
else. Kreisler was more exasperated at this than 
at the defection of a friend, who could be fixed down, 
and from whom at last explanation must come. It 
was an unfair advantage taken. A man had no right 
to accompanv you in that distant and paradoxical 
fashion, get all he could, become ideally useful, unless 
it was for life. 

He watched Soltyk's success with distant mockery. 
Volker's loves were all husks, of illogical completeness. 

A man appeared one day in the Berne who had 
known Kreisler in Munich. The story of Kreisler s 
marrying his fiancee to his father then became known. 
Other complications were alleged in which Otto's 
paternity played a part. The dot of the bride was 
another obscure matter. It was during his aloofness. 
He looked the sort of man, the party agreed, who 
would splice his sweetheart with his papa or reinforce 
his papa's affairs with a dot he did not wish to pay 
for at last with his own person. The Berne was 

84 



also informed that Kreisler had to keep seventeen 
children in Munich alone ; that he only had to look 
at a woman for her to become pregnant. It was when 
the head of the column, the eldest of the seventeen, 
emerged into boyhood, requiring instruction, that 
Kreisler left for Eome. Since then a small society 
had been founded in Bavaria to care for Kreisler's 
offsprings throughout Germany. This great capacity 
of Otto's was, naturally, not admired ; at the best 
it could be considered as a misdirected and disordered 
efficiency. The stories pleased, nevertheless. When 
he appeared that night his friends turned towards his 
historic figure with cries of welcome. But he was 
not gregarious. He missed his opportunity. He 
took a seat in the passage-way leading to the Bureau 
de Tabac. As their laughter struck him through his 
paper he was unstrung enough to be annoyed. 

He frowned and puckered up his eyes, and two 
flushed lines descended from his eyes to his jaw. On 
their way out one or two of his compatriots greeted 
him : 

" Sacred Otto ! Why so unsociable ? " 

" Hush ! He has much to think about. You don't 

understand what the cares of " 

, " Come, old Otto, a drink ! " 

He shook them off with mixture of affected anger 
and genuine spitting oaths. He avoided their eyes 
and spat blasphemously at his beer. He avoided the 
caf6 for some days. 

Kreisler then recovered. 

At first nothing much happened. He had just 
gone back again into the midst of his machinery like 
a bone slipped into its place, with a soft crick. He 
became rather more firm with his creditors. He 
changed his rooms (moving then to the Boulevard 
Pfeiffer), passed an occasional evening with the 
Germans at the Berne, and started a portrait of 
Suzanne, who had been sitting at the school. 

"How is Herr Volker ? Is he out of Paris?" 
Fraulein Lipmann asked him when they met. " Come 
round and see us." 

85 



People's actual or possible proceedings formed in 
very hard-and-fast mould in Kreisler's mind, seen 
not with realism, but through conventions of his 
suspicious irony. This solicitude as to Volker he 
contrasted with their probable indifference as regards 
his old, shabby, and impolite self. 

But he went round, his reception being insipid. 
He had shown no signs of animation or interest in 
them. Both he and the ladies were rather doubtful 
as to why he came at all. No pleasure resulted on 
either side from these visits, yet they doggedly 
continued. A distinct and steady fall in the tempera- 
ture could be observed. He sneered, as though the 
aimlessness of his visits were an insult that had at 
last been taken up. They would have been for ever 
discontinued except for a sudden necessity to reopen 
that channel of bourgeois intercourse. 



CHAPTER V 

On the first day of his letter being overdue, a con- 
venient way of counting, Otto rose late, from a maze 
of shallow dreams, and was soon dressed, wanting 
to get out of his room. 

As the clock struck one he slammed his door and 
descended the stairs alertly. The concierge, on the 
threshold of her " loge," peered up at him. 

" Good morning, Madame Leclerc ; it's a fine day," 
said Kreisler, in his heavy French, his cold direct 
gaze incongruously ornamented by a cheerful smile. 

" Monsieur has got up late this morning," replied 
the concierge, with very faint amiability. 

" Yes, I have lost all sense of time. J'ai perdu le 
temps ! Ha ha ! " He grinned mysteriously. The 
watch had gone the way of the dress clothes some days 
already. 

She followed him slowly along the passage, become 
extremely grave. " Quel original ! quel genre ! " 
With a look of perplexed distrust she watched him 

86 



down the street. — This German good humour and 
sudden expansiveness has always been a portentous 
thing to French people. Latin races are as scandal- 
ized at northern amenities, the badness of our hypo- 
crisies or manners and total immodesty displayed, 
as the average man of Teutonic race is with the 
shameful perfection of and ease in deceit shown by the 
French neighbour. Kreisler, still beneath the eye 
of the concierge, with his rhythmic martial tread, 
approached the restaurant. A few steps from the 
threshold he slowed down, dragging his long German 
boots, which acted as brakes. 

The Eestaurant Lejeune, like many others in Paris, 
had been originally a clean, tranquil little creamery, 
consisting of a small shop a few feet either way. — Then 
one customer after another had become more glut- 
tonous. He had asked, in addition to his daily glass 
of milk, for beefsteak and spinach, or some other 
terrific nourishment, which the decent little business 
at first supplied with timid protest. But perpetual 
scenes of sanguine voracity — weeks of compliance 
with the most brutal and unbridled appetites of 
man — gradually brought about a change in its cha- 
racter. — It became frankly a place where the most 
carnivorous palate might be palled. As trade grew, 
the small business had burrowed backwards into the 
house — the victorious flood of commerce had burst 
through walls and partitions, flung down doors, 
discovered many dingy rooms in the interior that it 
instantly filled with serried cohorts of eaters. It had 
driven out terrified families, had hemmed the apo- 
plectic concierge in her " loge," it had broken out 
on to the court at the back in shed-like structures. 
And in the musty bowels of the house it had estab- 
lished a broiling, luridly-lighted, roaring den, in- 
habited by a rushing and howling band of slatternly 
savages. — The chef's wife sat at a desk immediately 
fronting the entrance door. When a diner had 
finished, adding up the bill himself on a printed slip 
of paper, he paid it there on his way out. In the first 
room a tunnel-like and ill-lit recess furnished with a 

87 



long table formed a cul-de-sac to the left. Into 
this Kreisler got. At the right-hand side the passage 
led to the inner rooms. 

A mind feeling the need for things clean and clear cut 
would have been better content, although demurring, 
with Kreisler' s military morning suit, slashed with thick 
seams ; carefully cut hair, short behind,a little florid and 
bunched on the top ; his German high-crowned bowler 
hat, and plain cane, than the Charivari of the Art- 
fashion and uniform of The Brush in those about him, 
chiefly students from the neighbouring Art schools. 

He was staring at the bill of fare when some one 
took the seat in front of him. — He looked up, put 
down the card. A young woman was sitting there, 
who now seemed waiting, as though Kreisler might 
be expected, after a rest, to take up the menu again 
and go on reading it. 

" Have you done with ? May I % " 

At the sound of her voice he moved a little forward, 
and in handing it to her, spoke in German. 

" Danke schon," she said, smiling with a German 
nod of racial recognition. 

He ordered his soup. — Usually this meal passed in 
surly impassible inspection of his neighbours and the 
newspaper. Staring at and through the figure in 
front of him, he spent several minutes. He seemed 
making up his mind. 

" Monsieur est distrait aujourd'hui," Jeanne said, 
who was waiting to take his order. 

Contrary to custom, he sought for some appetizing 
dish, to change the routine. Appetite had not woken, 
but he had become restless before the usual dull 
programme. There were certain tracts of menu he 
never explored. His eye always guided him at once 
to the familiar place where the " plat du jour " was 
to be found, and the alternative sweets heading the 
list. He now plunged his eye down the long line 
of unfamiliar dishes. 

He fixed his eye on Jeanne with indecision too, 
and picked up the menu. " My vis-a-vis is pretty ! " 
he thought. 

88 



11 Lobster salad, mayonnaise, and a pommes & 
l'huile, Jeanne," lie called out. 

This awakening to beauties of the menu brought 
with it a survey of his neighbour. Vaguely, she must 
be connected with lobster salad. How could that 
be? 

First he was surprised that such a beautiful girl 
should be sitting there. Beautiful people wander 
dangerously about in life, just like ordinary folk. He 
appeared to think that they should be isolated like 
powder magazines or lepers. This man could never 
leave good luck alone, or reflect that that, too, was a 
dangerous vagrant. He could not quite grasp that 
it was a general good luck and easily explained phe- 
nomenon. 

He had already been examined by the beautiful 
girl. Throwing an absent far-away look into her 
eyes, she let them wander over him. Afterwards she 
cast them down into her soup. As a pickpocket, 
after brisk work in a crowd, hurries home to examine 
and evaluate his spoil, so she then examined col- 
lectedly what her dreamy eyes had noted. This 
method was not characteristic of her, but of the 
category of useful habits bequeathed us, each sex 
having its own. Perhaps in her cloudy soup she 
beheld something of the storm and shock that in- 
habited her neighbour. 

Without preliminary reflection Kreisler found 
himself addressing her, a little abashed when he 
suddenly heard his voice, and with eerie feeling when 
it was answered. 

" From your hesitation in choosing your lunch, 
gnadiges Fraulein, I suppose you have not been long 
in Paris ? " 

" No, I only arrived a week ago, from America." 
She settled her elbows on the table for a moment. 

14 Allow me to give you some idea of what the menu 
of this restaurant is like." This was like a lesson. 
He started ponderously. " At the head of each 
list you will find simple dishes ; elemental dishes, I 
might call them! (Elementalische platter!) This 

89 



is the rough material from which the others are 
evolved. Each list is like an oriental dance. It 
gets wilder as it goes along. In the last dish you can 
be sure that the potatoes will taste like tomatoes, and 
the pork like a sirloin of beef." 

" So ! " laughed the young woman, with good 
German gutteral. " I'm glad to say I have ordered 
dishes that head the list." 

" Garlic is an enemy usually ambushed in gigot. — 
That is his only quite certain haunt." 

" Good ; I will avoid gigot." She was indulgent 
to his clowning, and drawled a little in sympathy. 
Between language and feeding, Kreisler sought to 
gain the young lady's confidence, adhering conven- 
tionally to the progress of Creation. 

He found his neighbour inclined to slight Nature. 
He, too, was a little overlooked ; in waiving of 
conventions being blandly forestalled. There was 
something uncomfortable about all this. He must 
brace himself He realized with the prophetic 
logic of his hysteria, racing through the syllogisms his 
senses divined, sensations now anachronisms, after- 
wards recognized as they burst out in due course. 
This precocity in the restaurant took him to the 
solution of what their coming together might mean. 

One plethoric impression of her was received — al- 
though from her — instalment of a senseless generosity. 
She wore a heavy black burnous, very voluminous 
and severe ; a large ornamental bag was on the chair 
at her side, which you expected to contain herbs and 
trinkets, paraphernalia of the witch, rather than 
powder, lip-cream, and secrets. Her hat was immense 
and sinuous ; generally she implied an egotistic code 
of advanced order, full of insolent strategies. 

Other women in the restaurant appeared dragged 
down and drained of vitality by their clothes beside 
her, Kreisler thought, although she wore so much 
more than they did. Her large square- shouldered 
and slim body swam in hers like a duck. 

When she laughed, this commotion was transmitted 
to her body as though sharp, sonorous blows had been 

90 



struck on her mouth. Her lips were long, hard 
bubbles risen in the blond heavy pool of her face, 
ready to break, pitifully and gaily. Grown forward 
with ape-like intensity, they refused no emotion 
noisy egress if it got so far. Her eyes were large, 
stubborn, and reflective, brown coming out of 
blondness. Her head was like a deep white egg in a 
tobacco-coloured nest. She exuded personality with 
alarming and disgusting intensity. It was an osten- 
tation similar to diamonds and gold watch-chains. 
Kreisler felt himself in the midst of a cascade, a 
hot cascade. 

She seemed to feel herself a travelling circus of 
tricks and wonders, beauty shows and monstrosities. 
Quite used to being looked at, she had become 
resigned to inability to avoid performing. She 
possessed the geniality of public character and the 
genius of sex. Kreisler was a strange loafer talked to 
easily, without any consciousness of condescension. 

Just as he was most out of his depth, Kreisler 
had run up against all this ! It all had the mellow- 
ness of sunset, and boomed in this small alcove 
infernally.— By the fact of sex this figure seems to 
offer him a traditional substantiality. He clutches at 
it eagerly as at something familiar and unmeta- 
morphosed— and somewhat unmetamorphosable— by 

In the first flush he revolves with certain skill 
in this new champ de manoeuvres, executing one or 
two very pretty gymnastics. He has only to flatter 
himself on the excellent progress, really, that he makes. 
My name is Anastasya," she says irrelevantly to 
him, as if she had stupidly forgotten, before, this 
httle detail. 

Whew ! his poor ragged eyelashes flutter, a cloud 
r astonishment passes grotesquely over his face; 
like the clown of the piece, he looks as though he were 
about to rub his head, click his tongue, and give his 
nearest man-neighbour an enthusiastic kick. " An- 
astasya ! " It will be " Tasy " soon ! 

He outwardly becomes more solemn than ever, 
91 



like a merchant who sees an incredible dupe before 
him, and would in some way conceal his exhilaration. 
But he calls her carefully at regular intervals, An- 
astasya ! 

" I suppose you've come here to work ? " he 
asked. 

" I don't want to work any more than is absolutely 
necessary. I am overworked as it is, by living 
merely." He could well believe it ; she must do 
some overtime ! " If it were not for my excellent 
constitution ' ' 

This was evidently, Kreisler felt, the moment to 
touch on the heaviness of life's burden ; as her ex- 
pression was perfectly even and non-committal. 

" Ah, yes," he sighed heavily, one side of the 
menu rising gustily and relapsing, " Life gives one 
work enough." 

She looked at him and reflected, " What work 
does ■ cet oiseau-la ' perform ? " 

" Have you many friends here, Anastasya ? " 

" None." — She laughed with ostentatious satis- 
faction at his funniness. " I came here, as a matter 
of fact, to be alone. I want to see only fresh people. 
I have had all the gusto and illusion I had lent all 
round steadily handed back to me where I come from. 
1 1 beg your pardon ! Your property, ma'am ! ' 
The result is that I am amazingly rich ! — I am tre- 
mendously rich ! " She opened her eyes wide ; 
Kreisler pricked up his ears and wondered if this were 
to be taken in another sense. He cast down his eyes 
respectfully. " I have the sort of feeling that I have 
enough to go all round. — But perhaps I haven't ! " 

Kreisler lingered over her first observation : 
" wanted to be alone." The indirect compliment 
conveyed (and he felt, when it was said, that he was 
somewhere near the frontier, surely, of a German 
confidence) was rather mitigated by what followed. 
The " having enough to go all round " : that was 
very universal, and included him too easily in its 
sweep. 

" Do you want to go all round ? " he asked, with 
92 



heavy plagiarism of her accent, and solemn senti- 
mental face. 

" I don't want to be mean." 

His eyes struggled with hers ; he was easily 
thrown. 

But she had the regulation feminine foible of charity 
he reassured himself, by her answer. 

Kreisler's one great optimism was a belief in the 
efficacy of women. — You did not deliberately go 
there — at least, he usually did not — unless you were 
in straits. But there they were all the time, vast 
dumping-ground for sorrow and affliction — a world- 
dimensioned pawnshop, in which you could deposit 
not your dress- suit or garments, but yourself, tem- 
porarily, in exchange for the gold of the human heart. 
Their hope consisted, no doubt, in the reasonable 
uncertainty as to whether you would ever be able 
to take yourself out again. Kreisler had got in and 
out again almost as many times as his " smokkin " 
in its pawnshop. 

Women were Art or expression for him in this way. 
They were Man's Theatre. The Tragedies played 
there purged you periodically of the too violent 
accumulations of desperate life. There its burden of 
laughter as well might be exploded. — Woman was a 
confirmed Schauspielerin or play-actress ; but coming 
there for illusion he was willingly moved. Much 
might be noticed in common between him and the 
drunken navvy on Saturday night, who comes home 
bellicosely towards his wife, blows raining gladly at 
the mere sight of her. He may get practically all 
the excitement and exertion he violently needs, with- 
out any of the sinister chances a more real encounter 
would present. His wife is " his little bit " of un- 
reality, or play. He can declaim, be outrageous 
to the top of his bent ; can be maudlin too ; all 
conducted almost as he pleases, with none of the 
shocks of the real and too tragic world. In this 
manner woman was the aesthetic element in Kreisler's 
life. Love, too, always meant unhappy love for 
him, with its misunderstandings and wistful separa- 

93 



tions. He issued forth solemnly and the better 
for it. He approached a love affair as the deutscher 
Student engages in a student's duel — no vital part 
exposed, but where something spiritually of about 
the importance of a nose might be lost ; at least 
stoically certain that blood would be drawn. 

A casual observer of the progress of Otto Kreisler's 
life might have said that the chief events, the crises, 
consisted of his love affairs — such as that unfortunate 
one with his present stepmother. — But, in the light 
of a careful analysis, this would have been an inversion 
of the truth. When the events of his life became too 
unwieldy or overwhelming, he converted them into 
love, as he might have done, with specialized talent, 
into some art or other . He was a sculptor — a German 
sculptor of a mock-realistic and degenerate school — 
in the strange sweethearting of the " free-life." The 
two or three women he had left about the world in 
this way — although perhaps those symbolic statues 
had grown rather characterless in Time's weather 
and perhaps lumpish — were monuments of his per- 
plexities. After weeks of growing estrangement, 
he would sever all relations suddenly one day — usually 
on some indigestible epigram, that worried the poor 
girl for the rest of her days. Being no adept in the 
science of his heart, there remained a good deal of 
mystery for him about the appearance of " Woman " 
in his life. He felt that she was always connected 
with its important periods ; he thought, supersti- 
tiously, that his existence was in some way implicated 
with dem Weib. She was, in any case, for him, a 
stormy petrel. He would be killed by a woman, he 
sometimes thought. This superstition had flourished 
with him before he had yet found for it much raison 
d'etre. — A serious duel having been decided on in 
his early student days, this reflection, " I am quite 
safe ; it is not thus that I shall die," had given him 
a grisly coolness. His opponent nearly got himself 
killed, because he, for his part, had no hard and fast 
theory about the sort of death in store for him. 

This account, to be brought up to date, must be 
94 



modified. Since knowing Volker, no woman had 
come conspicuously to disturb him. Volker had been 
the ideal element of balance in his life. 

But between this state — the minimum degree of 
friendship possible — a distant and soothing com- 
panionship — and more serious states, there was no 
possible foothold for Kreisler. 

Friendship usually dates from unformed years. 
But Love still remains in full swing long after Kreis- 
ler' s age at that time ; a sort of spurious and intense 
friendship. 

An uncomfortable thing happened now. He 
realized suddenly all the possibilities of this chance 
acquaintanceship, plainly and cinematographically. — 
He was seized with panic. — He must make a good 
impression. — From that moment he ran the risk of 
doing the reverse. For he was unaccustomed to act 
with calculation. — There he was like some individual 
who had gone nonchalantly into the presence of a 
prince ; who — just in the middle of the audience — 
when he would have been getting over his first ' 
embarrassment — is overcome with a tardy confusion, 
the imagination in some way giving a jump. It is 
the imagination, repressed and as it were slighted, 
revenging itself. 

Casting about desperately for means of handling 
the situation, he remembered she had spoken of 
getting a dog to guide Tier. — What had she meant ? 
Anyway, he grasped at the dog. He could regain 
possession of himself in romantic stimulus of this 
figure. He would be her dog ! Lie at her feet ! 
He would fill with a merely animal warmth and vi- 
vacity the void that must exist in her spirit. His 
imagination, flattered, came in as ally. This, too, ex- 
empted him from the necessity of being victorious. 
All he asked was to be her dog ! — only wished to 
impress her as a dog ! Even if she did not feel much 
sympathy for him now, no matter. — He would humbly 
follow her up, put himself at her disposal, not be 
exigent. It was a role difficult to refuse him. Sense 

95 



of security the humility of this resolution brought 
about caused him to regain a self-possession. Only 
it imposed the condition, naturally, of remaining a 
dog. — Every time he felt his retiring humbleness 
giving place to another sensation, he anew felt qualms. 

" Do you intend studying here, Fraulein t " he 
asked, with a new deference in his tone — hardly a 
canine whine, but deep servient bass of the faithful 
St. Bernard. — She seemed to have noticed this 
something new already, and Kreisler on all fours 
evidently astonished her. She was inclined to stroke 
him, but at the same time to ask what was the 
matter. 

" A year or two ago I escaped from a bourgeois 
household in an original manner. Shall I tell you 
about that, Otto 1 " 

Confidence for confidence, he had told Anastasya 
that he was Otto. 

" Please ! " he said, with reverent eagerness. 

" Well, the bourgeois household was that of my 
father and mother. — I got out of it in this way. — I 
made myself such a nuisance to my family that they 
had to get rid of me." Otto flung himself back in 
his chair with dramatic incredulity. " It was quite 
simple. — I began scribbling and scratching all over 
the place — on blotting-pads, margins of newspapers, 
on my father's correspondence, the wall-paper. I 
inundated my home with troublesome images. It 
was like vermin ; my multitude of little figures 
swarmed everywhere. They simply had to get rid 
of me. — I said nothing. I pretended to be possessed. 
I got a girl-friend in Munich to write enthusiastic 
letters : her people lived quite near us when we were 
in Germany." 

Kreisler looked at her rather dully, and smiled 
solemnly, with really something of the misplaced 
and unaccountable pathos and protest of dogs 
(although still with a slavish wagging of the tail) 
at some pleasantry of the master. — Her expansive- 
ness, as a fact, embarrassed him very much at this 
point. He was divided between his inclination to 

96 



respond to it in some way, and mature their acquaint- 
ance at once, and his determination to be merely 
a dog. Yet he felt that her familiarity, if adopted, 
in turn, by him, might not be the right thing. And 
yet, as it was, he would appear to be holding back, 
would seem " reserved " in his mere humility. He 
was a very perplexed dog for some time. 

He remained dumb, smiling up at her with appeal- 
ing pathos from time to time. She wondered if he 
had indigestion or what. He made several desperate 
dog-like sorties. But she saw he was clearly in 
difficulties. — As her lunch was finished, she called 
the waitress. — Her bill was made out, Kreisler scowling 
at her all the while. Her attitude, suggesting, 
11 Yes, you are funny, you know you are. I'd better 
go, then you'll be better," was responded to by him 
with the same offended dignity as the drunken man 
displays when his unsteadiness is observed. He 
repudiated sulkily the suggestion that there was 
anything wrong. Then he grew angry with her. 
His nervousness was her doing. — All was lost. He 
was very near some violence. — But when she stood 
up, he was so impressed that he sat gaping after her. 
He remained cramped in his place until she had left 
the restaurant. 

' He moved in his chair stiffly ; he ached as though 
he had been sitting for his portrait. The analogy 
struck him. Had he been sitting for his portrait ? 
These people dining near him as though they had 
suddenly appeared out of the ground — he was em- 
barrassed at finding himself alone with them. They 
knew all that had happened, but were pretending 
not to. He had not noticed that they were there all 
round him, overhearing and looking on. It was 
as though he had been talking to himself, and had 
just become aware of it. A tide of magnetism had 
flowed away, leaving him bare and stranded. — He 
cursed his stupidity. He then stopped this empty 
mental racket abruptly. — Only a few minutes had 
passed since Anastasya's departure. He seized hat 
and stick and hurried up to the desk. — Once outside 

97 G 



he gave his glasses an adjusting pull, gazed up and 
down the boulevard in all directions. No sign of the 
tall figure he was pursuing. He started off, partly 
at a run, in the likeliest direction. — At the Caf6 
Berne corner, where several new vistas opened, 
there she was, some way down the Boulevard du 
Paradis, on the edge of the side-walk, waiting till 
a tram had passed to cross. Having seen so much, 
should he not go back ? For there was nothing else 
to be done. To catch her up and force himself on 
her could have only one result, he thought. He 
might, perhaps, follow a little way. That was being 
done already. 

They went on for some hundred yards, she a good 
distance ahead on the other side of the boulevard. 
Walking for a moment, his eyes on the ground, he 
looked up and caught her head pivoting slowly round. 
She no doubt had seen him. — With shame he realized 
what was happening. — " Here I am following this 
girl as though we were strangers ! This is what I 
began in the restaurant. I am putting the final 
touch by following her in the street, as though we 
had never spoken ! " Either he must catch her up 
at once or vanish. He promptly turned up a side 
street, and circled round to his starting-point. 



OHAPTEE VI 

His nature would probably have sought to fill up 
the wide, shallow gap left by Ernst and earlier 
ties either by another Ernst or, more likely, a variety 
of matter. It would have been only a temporary 
stopping. Now a gold crown, regal person, had fallen 
on the hollow. 

But his nature was an effete machine and incapable 
of working on all that glory. Desperate at dullness, 
he betook himself to self -lashings. He would respond 
to utmost of weakened ability ; with certainty of 
failure, egotistically, but not at a standstill. Kreisler 

98 



was a German who, by all rights and rules of the 
national temperament, should have committed suicide 
some weeks earlier. Anastasya became an idee fixe. 
He was a machine, dead weight of old iron, that, 
started, must go dashing on. His little-dog simile 
was veritably carried out in his scourings of the 
neighbourhood, in hope of crossing Anastasya. But 
these " courses " gave no result. Benignant appari- 
tion, his roughness had scared it away, and off the 
earth, for ever. He entered, even infested, all 
painting schools of the quarter. He rapidly pursued 
distant equivocal figures in streets and gardens. 
Each rendered up its little quota of malignant hope, 
then presented him with a face of monotonous 
strangeness. 

It was Saturday when Kreisler was found preparing 
to take his valise to the Mont de Pi6te. On the 
preceding evening he had paid one of his unaccount- 
able calls on Fraulein Lipmann, the first for some 
time. He had a good reason for once. This salon 
wsts the only place of comparatively public assembly 
in the quarter he had not visited. Entering with his 
usual slight air of mystification, he bent to kiss 
Fraulein Lipmann's hand in a vaguely significant 
fashion. 

The blank reciprocal indifference of these calls 
was thus relieved. It awoke a vague curiosity on 
one side, a little playful satisfaction on the other. 
This might even have ripened into a sort of under- 
standing and bonhomie. He did not pursue it or 
develop the role. After a half-hour of musing on 
the brink of a stream of conversation and then music, 
he suddenly recognized something, flotsam bobbing 
past. It had bobbed past before several times. He 
gradually became steadily aware of it. A dance at 
the Bonnington Club, that would take place the 
following evening, was the event that arrested him. 
Why was this familiar ? Anastasya ! Anastasya 
had spoken of it. That was all he could remember. 
Would she be there ? He at once, and as though he 
had come there to do so, fished delicately in this same 

99 



stream of tepid chatter for an invitation to the dance. 
Fraulein Lipmann, the fish he particularly angled for, 
was backward. They did not seem to want him 
very much at the dance. Nevertheless, after an 
hour of indefatigable manoeuvring, the exertion of 
many powers seldom put forth in that salon, he 
secured the form, not the spirit, of an invitation. 

Kreisler saw, in his alarmed fancy, Anastasya 
becoming welded into this gregarious female per- 
sonality. The energy and resource of the Devil 
himself would be required to extricate her. She 
must be held back from this slough for the moment 
he needed. 

Was it too late to intercept her ? But he felt he 
might do it. The eyes of these ladies, so far dull 
with indifference, would open. He would be seen as 
a being with a new mysterious function. He felt 
that Volker's absence from their reunions was due 
to his not wishing to meet him. They, too, must 
see that. Now the enigmatical and silent doggedness 
of these visits would seem explained. He would 
appear like some unwieldy, deliberate parasite got 
on to their indivisible body. The invitation given, 
he made haste to go. If he stayed much longer 
it would be overlaid with all sorts of offensive and 
effacing matter, and be hardly fit for use. A defiant 
and jeering look on his face, he withdrew with an 
" Until to-morrow." 

It was at this point that the " smokkin " came 
into prominence. 



CHAPTEE VII 

"Impossible, my poor Kreisler! Five francs. No 
more ! " 

Suzanne stood at attention before him in the 
hall of the Mont de Pi6te. If she had been in- 
exorable before, she was now doubly so beneath the 
eyes of the veritable officials. The sight of them, 

100 



and the half -official status of go-between and inter- 
preter, urged her to ape -like importance. 

With flushed and angry face, raised eyebrows, 
shocked at his questioning the verdict, she repeated, 
11 Five francs ; it's the most." 

" No, that's no good ; give me the portmanteau," 
he said. 

She gave it him in silence, eyebrows still raised, 
eyes fixed, staring with intelligent disapproval right 
in front of her. She did not look at her eminent 
countrymen behind the large counter. But her 
intelligent and significant stare, lost in space, was 
meant to meet and fraternize with probable similar 
stares of theirs, lost in the same intelligent void. 

Her face fixed in distended, rubicund, discon- 
tentedly resigned mask, she walked on beside him, 
the turkey -like backward -forward motion of fat neck 
marking her ruffled state. Kreisler sat down on a 
bench of the Boulevard du Paradis, she beside him. 

11 Dis ! couldn't you have borrowed the rest ? " 
she said at last. 

Kreisler was tired. He got up. 

14 No, of course I couldn't. I hate people who 
lend money as I hate pawnbrokers." 
/ Suzanne listened, with protesting grin. Her head 
nodded energetically. 

14 Eh bien ! si tout le monde pensait comme 
toi !" 

He pushed his moustache up and frowned patheti- 
cally. 

" Ou est Monsieur Volker ? " she asked. 

11 Volker ? I don't know. He has no money." 

" Comment ! II n'a pas d'argent ? C'est pas vrai ! 
Tu ne le vois p'us ? " 

" Good-bye." Kreisler left Suzanne seated, staring 
after him. 

The portmanteau dragged along, he strode past a 
distant figure. Suzanne saw him turn round and 
examine the stranger's face. Then she lost sight of 
them round a corner of the boulevard. 

11 Quel type ! " she exclaimed to herself, nearly as 
101 



the concierge had done. She sauntered back home, 
giving Kreisler the benefit of several sour reflections. 

In a little room situated behind the Eue de la 
Gai£te, she pulled open one of two drawers in her 
washstand, which contained a little bread, tea, 
potatoes, and a piece of cold fish. She spread out 
a sheet of the Petit Parisien beside the basin. Having 
peeled the potatoes and put them on the gas, she took 
off those outdoor things that just enabled her to 
impart a turkey -like movement to her person. Then, 
dumpy, in a salmon-check petticoat, her legs bowed 
backwards and her stomach stuck out, she stood 
moodily at the window. A man she knew, now in 
the Midi, sent her now and then a few francs. 

This rueful spot, struck in image of this elementary 
dross of humanity, was Kreisler's occasional haunt. 
Cell of the unwieldy, tragic brain of the city, with 
million other similar cells, representing overwhelming 
uniform force of brooding in that brain, attracted 
him like a desert or ocean. 

He would listen solemnly, like a great judge, to 
Suzanne's perpetual complaints, sitting on the edge 
of her bed, hat on head. She was so humble and 
so pretentious. Her imagination was arrogant and 
constantly complaining. The form her complaints 
took was always that of lies — needless, dismal lies. 
She could not grumble without inventing and she 
never stopped grumbling. This, then, was one of 
Kreisler's dwellings. He lived at large. Some of 
his rooms, such as this, the Cafe de Berne, and Juan 
Soler's School of Art, he shared with others. On 
very troubled days his body, like the finger of a 
weather-glass, would move erratically. When found 
in Suzanne's room it might be taken as an indication 
of an unsettled state. A tendency to remain at 
home, on the contrary, denoted mostly a state of 
equilibrium and peace. 



102 



CHAPTBE VIII 

The portmanteau fell under the bed; he crushed 
into the red bulbous cover. Kreisler never sat 
on his bed except when going to get into it. 
For another man it would have replaced the absent 
armchair. In those moments of depression in 
which he did so he always, at once, felt more 
depressed, or quite hopeless. Head between hands, 
he now stared at the floor. Four or five hours ! 
He must raise money, else he could not go to the 
dance. How absurd, this fuss about such a sum ! 
All the same, how the devil could he get it ? 

" Small as it is, I shan't get it," he thought to 
himself. He began repeating this stupidly, and stuck 
at word " shan't." His brain and mouth clogged up, 
he stuttered thickly in his mind. He sprang up. 
But the slovenly, hopeless quality of the bed clung 
to him. This was a frivolous demonstration. He 
wandered to the window ; stood staring out, nose 
flattened against the pane. 

The sudden quiet and idleness of his personality 
was an awakening after the little nightmare of 
Suzanne. But it was not a refreshing one. 

His portmanteau had always received certain 
consideration, as being, next the dress-suit, the most 
dependable article among those beneath his sway — 
to come to his aid if their common existence were 
threatened. He had now thrown it under the bed 
with disgust. He and all his goods were rubbish for 
the streets. 

He sauntered from the window to the bed and 
back. Whenever he liked, in a sense, he would open 
the door and go out ; but still, until then (and when 
would he " like " ?) he was a poor prisoner. Outside, 
he took some strength and importance from others. 
In here he touched bottom and realized what the 
Kreisler-self was, with four walls round it. 

His muscles were still full. They symbolized his 
uselessness. The thought, so harsh and tyrannical, 

103 



of his once more going to the window and gazing down 
at the street beneath made him draw back his chair. 
He sat midway in the room, looking steadily out at 
the housetops. But, like his vigorous muscles and 
his deadness, there was the same contradiction ; 
his mechanical obstinacy as regards Anastasya and 
his comic activity at present to get to a dance. 

Comrades at painting school, nodding acquaintances, 
etc., were once more run through. None valued his 
acquaintance at more than thirty centimes, if that. 

Perhaps Anastasya had left Paris ? This solution, 
occurring sometimes, had only made his activity 
during the last few days more mad and mechanical — 
the pursuit of a shadow. 

Ten minutes later, through a series of difficult clock- 
work-like actions, he had got once more to Lejeune's 
to have lunch. With disgust he took what had been 
his usual seat latterly, at the table in the recess ; 
the one place, he was sure, Anastasya would never 
be found in again, wherever else she might be found. 

Lunch nearly over, he caught sight of Lowndes. 
" Hi, Master Lowndes ! " he called out — always 
assuming great bluffness and brutality, as he called 
it, with English people, and laborious opposite to 
" stiffness." " How do you do ? " 

The moment his eye had fallen on " Master " 
Lowndes this friend's probable national opulence 
had occurred to him as a tantalizing fact. No gross 
decision could be come to in that moment. Lowndes 
was called to be kept there a little bit, while he turned 
things over and made up his mind. This was an 
acquaintance existing chiefly on chaff and national 
antithesis. It meant nothing to him. What matter 
if he were refused ? Lowndes not being a com- 
patriot made it easier. Something must be sacrificed. 
Lowndes 5 acquaintanceship was a possession some- 
thing equivalent to a cheap ring, a souvenir. He 
must part with it, if necessary. 

Lowndes grinned at sight of Kreisler. He had 
finished his own lunch and was just going off. He 
had almost forgotten his idea in coming to the 

104 



restaurant, that of seeing his German acquaintance. 
Swaying from side to side on Ms two superlatively 
elastic calves, lie sat down opposite the good Otto, 
who leered back, blinking. He spoke German better 
than Kreisler any other language, so they used that, 
after a little flourish of English. 

" Well, what have you been doing ? Working f " 

" No," replied Kreisler. " I'm giving up painting 
and becoming a business man. My father has offered 
me a position ! " 

This subject seemed no more important than his 
speech made it, and yet it filled his life. Lowndes 
smiled correctly, not suspecting realities. 

" Have you seen Douglas ? " This was a friend 
through whom they had known each other in Italy. 

Why should this fellow lend him thirty francs ? 
The grin would not be there, he felt, had he been 
conscious that the other was thinking of the contents 
of his pocket. Not humour, but a much colder 
stuff no doubt mounted guard over his pocket-book, 
guarantee of this easiness and health. Oh, the 
offensive prosperity of the English, smugness of 
middle-class affluence ! etc. etc. 

Kreisler imagined the change that would come 
ovfcr this face when there was question of thirty 
francs. Estrangement set in on his side already, 
anger and humiliation at the imagined expression. 
This was of help. Here was his chance of borrowing 
that very insignificant but illusive sum. The man 
was already an enemy. He would willingly have 
knocked him on the head and taken his money 
had they been in a quiet place. 

The complacent health and humoristic phlegm with 
which he grinned and perambulated through life 
charged Kreisler with the contempt natural to his 
more stiff and human education. His relations with 
him hinging on mild racial differences, he saw behind 
him the long line of all the Englishmen he had ever 
known. " Useless swine," he thought, " so pleased 
with his cursed English face, and mean as a peasant ! " 

" Oh, I was asked for my opinion on a certain 
105 



matter this morning. I was asked what I thought 
of German women ! " 

" What reply did you make, Mr. Lowndes ? " 

" I didn't know what to say. I suggested that 
my friend should come along and get your opinion." 

" My opinion as an expert % My fees as an expert 
are heavy. I charge thirty francs a consultation ! " 

11 I'm sure he'd have paid that," Lowndes laughed 
innocently. Kreisler surveyed him unsympatheti- 
cally. 

" What, then, is your opinion of our excellent 
females % " he asked. 

" Oh, I have no opinion. I admire your ladies, 
especially the pure Prussians." 

Kreisler was thinking : " If I borrow the money, 
there must be some time mentioned for paying back — 
next week, say. He would be more likely to lend 
it if he knew where to find me. He must have my 
address." 

" Come and see me — some time," he blinked. 
" 52 Boulevard Pfeiffer, fourth floor, just beside the 
restaurant here. You see ? Up there." 

" I will. I looked you up at your old address a 
month or so ago ; they didn't know where you'd 
gone." 

Kreisler stared fixedly at him — a way of covering 
discomfiture felt at this news. The old address 
reminded him of several little debts there. For this 
reason he had not told them where he was going. 
The concierge would complain of her old tenant ; 
probably, even, Lowndes might have been shown 
derelict tradesmen's bills. Not much encouragement 
for his proposed victim ! 

Lowndes was writing on a piece of paper. 

" There's my address : Eue des Flammes." 

Kreisler looked at it rather fussily and said over : 
" 5 Eue des Flammes. Lowndes." He hesitated 
and repeated the name. 

" E. W. — Eobert Wooton. Here, I'll write it down 
for you." 

" Are you in a hurry ? Come and have a drink 
106 



at the Berne/' Kreisler suggested when he had made 
up his bill. 

On the way Lowndes continued a discourse. 

" A novelist I knew told me he changed the names 
of the characters in a book several times in the course 
of writing it. It freshened them up, according to 
him. He said that the majority of people were killed 
by their names. I think a name is a man's soul." 

Kreisler forged ahead, rhythmically and sullenly. 

" If we had numbers, for instance, instead of names, 
who would take the number thirteen ? " Lowndes 
wondered in German. 

"I," said Kreisler. 

11 Would you % " 

Every minute Kreisler delayed increased the diffi- 
culty. His energy was giving out. They were now 
sitting on the terrasse at the Berne. He had developed 
a particular antipathy to borrowing. An immense 
personal neurasthenia had grown up round this habit 
of his, owing to his late discomfitures. He already 
heard an awkward voice, saw awkward eyes. Then 
he suddenly concluded that the fact that Lowndes 
was not a German made it more difficult, instead of 
les$ so, as he had thought. Why could he not take ? — 
why petition ? He knew that if Lowndes refused 
he would break out ; he nearly did so as it was. 
With disgust and fatigue he lay back in his chair, 
paying no attention to what Lowndes was saying. 
His mind was made up. He would not proceed with 
his designs on this dirty pocket. He became rough 
and monosyllabic. He wished to purify himself in 
rudeness of his preceding amiability. 

Lowndes had been looking at a newspaper. He 
put it down and said he must go back to " work." 
His " morning " had, of course, been interrupted 
by Tarr ! 

Kreisler still saw the expression on the Englishman's 
face he had imagined, and restrained with difficulty 
the desire to spit in it. The nearness they had been 
to this demand must have affected, he thought, even 
his impervious companion. He had asked and been 

107 



refused, to all intents and purposes. He got up, 
left Lowndes standing there, and went into the 
lavatory at the side of the cafe, where he had a 
thorough wash in cold water. 



Back at his table, he saw no sign of the Englishman, 
and sat down to finish his drink, considering what his 
next move should be. 

Various pursuits suggested themselves. He might 
go and offer himself as model at some big private 
studios near the Observatoire. He could get a 
week's money advanced him ? He would dress as a 
woman and waylay somebody or other on the boule- 
vards. He might steal some money. Volker was 
the last. He came just after murder. He would go 
to Ernst Volker — he with his little obstinate resolve 
in obscurity of his mind no longer to be Kreisler's 
acquaintance. Obstinacy in people of weak character 
is the perfectly exasperating thing. They have no 
right to their resoluteness — appearing weaker and 
meaner than ever in anomalous tenacity. Volker, 
naturally submissive, had broken away and was 
posing somewhere as a stranger. He .felt physical 
disgust ; this proceeding was indecent. 

A spirit that has mingled with another, suddenly 
covering itself and wishing to regain its strangeness, 
can be as indecent as a strange being suddenly baring 
itself. A man's being is never divined so completely 
and pungently as when his friendship cools and he 
becomes once more a stranger. This is one of the 
moments when the imagination, most awake, sees 
best. 

This little rat's instinctive haste to separate from 
him was an ill omen : what did he care for omens ? 
he clamoured impatiently. 

At this juncture in his reflections, from where he 
sat on the caf6 terrace he saw Volker's back, as he 
supposed, disappearing round a corner, as though 
trying to avoid a meeting. Blood came to his head 
with a shock. He nearly sprang forward in pursuit 
of this unsociable form. Bushing words of insult 

108 



rose to his lips, he fidgeted on his seat, gazed blankly 
at the spot where he had seen the figure. That it 
was no longer there exasperated him beyond measure. 
It was as though he considered that Ernst should 
have remained at the corner, immobile, with his 
back towards him, a visible mark and fuel for anger. 
He made a sign to the waiter, indicating that his 
drink would go into his " tick." He then hurried 
off in the direction of Volker's house — the direction 
also that the back had taken — determined to get 
something out of him. Kreisler, letting instinct 
guide his steps, took the wrong turning — following, 
in fact, his customary morning's itinerary. He 
found himself suddenly far beyond the street Volker 
lived in, near Juan Soler's atelier. He gazed down 
the street towards the atelier, then took off his glasses 
and began carefully wiping them. While doing this 
he heard words of greeting and found Volker at his 
elbow. 

" Hallo ! You look pretty hot. You nearly knocked 
me over a minute ago in your haste," he was saying. 

Kreisler jumped — as the bravest might if, having 
stoutly confronted an apparition, it suddenly became 
a man of flesh and blood. Had his glasses been firmly 
planted on his nose things might have gone differently. 
He frowned vacantly at Ernst and went on rubbing 
them. 

Volker saw that something was wrong. It would 
have been to his advantage also to " have out " 
anything that was there and have done with it. 
But in his attitude German sluggishness seemed 
appealing to the same element in Kreisler's nature, 
claiming its support and sympathy. 

11 It's dreadfully hot ! " he said uneasily, looking 
round as though examining the heat. He stepped up 
on to the pavement out of the way of a horse-meat 
cart. The large-panelled conveyance, full of enormous 
outlandish red carcases, went rushing down the 
street, carrying an area of twenty yards of deafness 
with it. This explosion of sound had a pacifying effect 
on Kreisler ; it made him smile for some reason or 

109 



other. Volker went on: "I don't know whether I 
told you about my show." 

" What show ? " Kreisler asked rudely. 

11 In Berlin, you know. It has not gone badly. 
Our compatriots improve. I've got a commission 
to paint the Countess Wort. What have you been 
doing lately ? " There was a forbidding pause. " I've 
intended coming round to see you ; but I've been 
sticking at home working. Have you been round at 
the Berne f " He spoke rapidly and confidentially, 
as two business men meeting in the street and always 
in a hurry might try and compress into a few minutes, 
between two handshakes, a lot of personal news. He 
seemed to wish to combine conviction that he was 
very anxious to tell Kreisler all about himself and 
(by his hurried air) paralysis of the other's intention 
to have an explanation. 

" I am glad you are going to paint the Countess 
Wort. I congratulate you, Mr. Volker ! I am in a 
hurry. Good day." 

Kreisler turned and walked towards the Atelier 
Juan Soler. For no reason (except that it was 
impossible) he could not get money from Volker. 
It was as though that money would not be real 
money at all. Supposing he got it ; the first place 
he tried to pass it the man would say, " This is not 
money." As for taking him to task, his red, correct ■ 
face made it impossible ; it had suddenly become a 
lesson and exercise that it would be ridiculous to 
repeat. He was not a schoolboy. 

Volker walked away ruffled. He was mortified 
that, by apprehension of a scene, he had been so 
friendly. The old Otto had scored. He, Volker, had 
humiliated himself needlessly, for it was evident 
Kreisler's manner had been misinterpreted by him. 

Kreisler had not intended going to Soler's that day. 
Yet there he was, presumably got there now to avoid 
Ernst Volker. He saw himself starting up from the 
Berne a quarter of an hour before, steaming away 
in pursuit of a skulking friend — impetus of angry 
thought carrying him far beyond his destination ; 

110 



then Volker comes along and runs him into the 
painting school. He compared himself to one of 
those little steam toys that go straight ahead without 
stopping ; that any one can take up and send puffing 
away in the opposite direction. Humouring this 
fancy, he entered the studio with the gaze a man 
might wear who had fallen through a ceiling and 
found himself in a strange room in midst of a family 
circle. The irresponsible, resigned, and listless air 
signified whimsical expectancy. Some other figure 
would rise up, no doubt, and turn him streetwards 
again ? 

A member of the race which has learnt to sleep 
standing up posed on the throne. He had suddenly 
come amongst brothers. He was as torpid as she, 
as indifferent as these mechanical students. The 
clock struck. With a glance at the massier, the 
model slowly and rhythmically abandoned her rigid 
attitude, coming to life as living statues do in ballets ; 
reached stiffly for her chemise. The dozen other 
figures, who had been slowly pulsing — advancing or 
retreating, suspended around her yellowness — now 
laboriously moved, relapsing aimlessly here and there, 
chiefly against walls. 

He had been considering a fat back and especially 
a parting carried half-way down the back of the 
head. Why should not its owner, and gardener, 
he had reflected, continue it the whole distance down, 
dividing his head in half with a line of white scalp ? 
This man now turned on him sudden, unsurprised, 
placid eyes. Had he eyes, as well as a parting, at the 
back of his head ? Kreisler felt on the verge of 
courteous discussion as to whether that parting should 
or should not be gone on with till it reached the 
neck. 

Three had struck. He left and returned to the 
neighbourhood of the Berne by the same and longest 
route, as though to efface in some way his previous 
foolish journey. 

Every three or four hours vague hope recurred of 
the delayed letter, like hunger recurring at the hour 

111 



of meals. He went up to the loge of his house and 
knocked. 

" II n'y a rien pour vous ! " 

Four hours remained. The German party was to 
meet at Fraulein Lipmann's after dinner. 



CHAPTEE IX 

Otto's compatriots at the Berne were sober and 
thoughtful, with discipline in their idleness. Their 
monthly moneys flowed and ebbed, it was to be 
supposed, small regular tides frothing monotonously 
in form of beer. This rather desolate place of 
chatter, papers, and airy, speculative business had 
the charm of absence of gusto. 

Kreisler was ingrainedly antiquated, purer German. 
He had experienced suddenly home-sickness, that 
often overtakes voluntary exiles at the turn of their 
life — Ms being, not for Germany, exactly, but for the 
romantic, stiff ideals of the German student of his 
generation. It was a home-sickness for his early self. 
Like knack of riding a bicycle or anything learnt in 
youth, this character was easily assumed. He was 
gradually discovering the foundations of his per- 
sonality. Many previous moods and phases of his* 
nature were mounting to the surface. 

Arrived in front of the Cafe Berne, he stood for 
fifteen minutes looking up and down the street, at 
the pavement, his watch, the passers-by. Then he 
chose the billiard-room door to avoid thejprincipal 
one, where he usually entered. 

All the ugly familiarity of this place, he hated with 
methodic, deliberate hatred; taking things one by 
one, as it were, persons and objects. 'The gargon's 
spasmodic running about was like a gnat's energy 
over stagnation. 

Passing from the billiard-room to a gangway with 
several tables, his dull, exasperated eye fell on some- 
thing it did not understand. How could it be expected 

112 






to understand ? It was an eye and it stuck. It 
was simple, though. It was amazed and did not 
understand. 

Anastasya. 

Set in the heart of this ennui, it arrested the mind 
like a brick wall some carter drowsed on his wagon. 
Stopping dead, Kreisler stared stupidly. Anastasya 
was sitting there with Soltyk. With Soltyk ! He 
seemed about to speak to them — they, at least, were 
under this impression. Quite naturally he was about 
to do this, like a child. As though in intense abstrac- 
tion, he fixed his eyes on them. Then he took a 
step towards them, possibly with the idea of sitting 
down beside them. Consciousness set in, with a tropic 
tide of rage, and carried him at a brisk pace towards 
the door, corresponding to the billiard-room door, on 
the other side of the cafe. Yet in the midst of this 
he instinctively raised his hat a little, his eyes fixed 
now on his feet. 

He was in a great hurry to get past the two people 
sitting there. This could not be done without dis- 
covering two inches of the scalp for a moment — as 
an impatient man in a crush, wishing to pass, pushes 
another aside, raising his hat at the same time to 
have the right to be rude. 

Same table on terrasse as an hour before. But 
Kreisler seemed sitting on air, or one of those wooden 
whirling platforms in the fetes. 

The gargorij with a femininely pink, virile face 
which, in a spirit of fun, he kept constantly wooden 
and solemn except when, having taken your order, 
he winked or smiled— came up hastily. 

" Was wiinschen Sie ? " he asked, wiping the table 
with a serviette. He had learned a few words of 
German from the customers. Supposing Kreisler 
rather a touchy man, he always attempted to put 
him at his ease, as the running of bills was valuable 
to him. He had confidence in this client, and wished 
the bill to assume vague and profitable proportions. 

Kreisler's thoughts dashed and stunned themselves 
against this waiter. His mind stood stock-still for 

113 H 



several minutes. This pink wooden face paralysed 
everything. As its owner thought " the young man " 
was having a joke with him, it became stUl more 
humorously wooden. The more wooden it became, 
the more paralysed became Kreisler's intelligence. 
He stared at him more and more oddly, till the gargon 
was forced to laugh. As a matter of fact, Kreisler 
mentally was steadying himself on this hard per- 
sonality. As he had appeared to walk deliberately 
with hot intention to his seat, so he seemed gazing 
deliberately at the waiter and choosing his drink. 
Then the dam gave way. He hated this familiar 
face ; his thought smashed and buffeted it. Such 
commercial modicum of astute good nature was too 
much. It was kindness that only equilibrium could 
ignore. The expression of his own face became 
distorted. The gargon fixed him with his eye and 
took a step back, with dog-like doubt, behind the 
next table. 

Anastasya had smiled in a very encouraging way 
as he passed. This had offended him extremely. 
Soltyk — Anastasya ; Soltyk — Anastasya. That was 
a bad coupling ! His sort of persecution mania seized 
him by the throat. This had done it ! Soltyk, who 
had got hold of Volker and was the something that 
had interfered between that borrowable quantity and 
himself, occupied a position not unsimilar to his 
stepmother. Volker and his father, who had kept 
him suspended in idleness, and who now both were 
withdrawing or had withdrawn like diminishing jets 
of water, did not attract the full force of his indolent, 
tragic grumpiness. 

Behind Ernst and his parent Soltyk and his step- 
mother stood. 

A certain lonely and comic ego all people carry about 
with them, who is always dumb except when they 
get drunk or become demented. It then talks, never 
sincerely, but in a sort of representative, pungent 
way. This ego in Kreisler's case would not have 
been shameless and cynical if it had begun to grumble 
about Volker. It would have said, " Hang that little 

114 



Ernst ! I come to Paris, I am ashamed to say, 
partly for him. But the little swine-dog has given 
me the go-by. Hell take his impudence ! I don't 
like that swine-dog Soltyk ! He's a slimy Eussian 
rascal ! " It would not have said : " I've lost the 
access to Ernst's pocket. The pig-dog Soltyk is 
sitting there ! " 

In any case his vanity too was hurt. 

Anastasya now provided him with an acceptable 
platform from which his vexation might spring at 
Soltyk. There was no money or insignificant male 
liaison to stuff him down into grumpiness. " Das 
Weib " was there. All was in order for unbounded 
inflammation. 

He wanted to bury his fear in her hot hair ; he 
wanted to kiss her lips as he had never kissed any 
woman's ; all the things he wanted — ! But what 
would Soltyk be doing about it ? He had met her 
alone, and that was all right and not impossible 
with a world made by their solitary meeting in the 
restaurant. He had lived with her instinctively in 
this solitary world of he and she. It was quite 
changed at present. Soltyk had got into it. Soltyk, 
by implication, brought a host of others, even if he 
did not mean that he was a definite rival there himself. 
What was he saying to her now % Sneers and ridi- 
cule, oceans of sneers directed at himself, more than 
ten thousand men could have discharged, he felt, 
certainly were inundating her ear. His stepmother- 
fiancee, other tales, were being retailed. Everything 
that would conceivably prejudice Anastasya, or 
would not, he accepted as already retailed. There he 
sat, like a coward. He was furious at their distant 
insulting equanimity. 

A breath of violent excitement struck him, coming 
from within. He stirred dully beneath it. She was 
there ; he had only put a thin partition between 
them. His heart beat slowly and ponderously. " On 
hearing what the swine Soltyk has to say she will 
remember my conduct in the restaurant and my 
appearance. She will make it all fit in. And, by 

115 



God, it does fit in ! Himmel ! Himmel ! there's 
nothing to be done ! Anything I did, every move- 
ment, would only be filling out the figure my ass- 
tricks have cut for her ! " 

He was as conscious of the interior, which he could 
not see from his place on the street, as though, passing 
through, he had just found the walls, tables, chairs, 
painted bright scarlet. He felt he had left a wake of 
seething agitation in his passage of the cafe. Passing 
the two people inside there had been the affair of a 
moment, not yet grasped. This experience, appar- 
ently of the past, was still going on. The sense's 
picture, even, was not yet complete. New facts, 
details, were added every moment. He was still 
passing Anastasya and Soltyk. He sat on, trembling, 
at the door. There were other exits. She might 
be gone. But he forgot about them. 

How he had worried himself about the pawned 
suit. Fate had directed him there to the cafe to save 
him the trouble of further racking his brains about 
it. Should he leave Paris? But he was mutinous. 
The occurrence of this idea filled him with suspicions. 

The fit was over ; reaction had set in. He was 
eyeing himself obliquely in the looking-glass behind 
his head. 

He almost jumped away at two voices beside him, 
and the thrilling sound of a dress ; it was as though 
some one had spoken with his own voice. It seemed 
all round him, attacking him. The thin, ordinary 
brushing of a skirt was like the low breathing of a 
hidden animal to a man in the forest. He felt they 
were coming to speak to him — just as they had 
thought that he was. The nerves on that side of 
his head twitched as though shrinking from a touch. 

They were crossing the terrasse to the street. His 
heart beat a slow march. Her image there had 
become used. The reality, in its lightning correction 
of this, dug into his mind. There once more the real 
figure had its separate and foreign life. He was 
disagreeably struck by a certain air of depression and 
cheerlessness in the two figures before him. This 

116 



one thing that should have been pleasant, displeased 
him. He was angry as though she had been shamming 
melancholy. 

They were not talking, the best proof of familiarity. 
A strange figure occurred to him ; he felt like a man, 
with all organs, bones, tissues complete, but made 
of cheap perishable stuff, who could only live for a 
day and then die of use. 

This image, reality now before him, had drawn out 
all his energy, like a distinct being nourished by him. 
The image, intact in his mind, had returned him more 
or less the vigour spent. Her listlessness seemed a 
complement of the weakness he now felt. Energy 
was ebbing away from both. 

He stared with bloodshot eyes. Then he got up 
and began walking after her. Soltyk, on hearing 
steps, turned round ; but he made no remark to 
Anastasya. They crossed the street and got into a 
passing tram. Otto Kreisler went back to the caf& 

It was like returning to some hall where there had 
been a banquet to find empty chairs, empty bottles, 
and disorder. The vacant seats around seemed to 
have been lately vacated. Then there was the sensa- 
tion of being left behind. The Cafe Berne was a 
solitary and antediluvian place. Everything began 
to thrust itself upon him — the people, street, insigni- 
ficant incidents — as though this indifferent life of 
facts, in the vanishing of the life of the imagination, 
had now become important, being the only thing left. 
Common life seemed rushing in and claiming him, 
and emphasizing his defeat and the new condition 
thus inaugurated. He went to Lejeune's for dinner. 
During the whole day he had been in feverish hurry, 
constantly seeing time narrowing in upon him. Now 
he had a sensation of intolerable leisure. 

The useless ennui of his life presented itself to 
him for the thousandth time, but now clearly. This 
fact seemed to have been waiting with irritating calm, 
as though to say, " As soon as you can give me your 
attention ? — Well, what are you going to do with 
me!" For he had compromised himself irretrievably. 

117 



He knew that sooner or later he must marry and 
settle down with this stony fact, multiply its image. 
Tilings had gone too far. 

And how about his father ? What was that letter 
going to contain ? His father had got a certain 
amount of pleasure out of him. Otto had satisfied 
in him in turn the desire of possession (that objects 
such as your watch, your house, which could equally 
well belong to anybody, do not satisfy), of authority 
(that servants do not satisfy), of self-complacency (that 
self does not) : had been to him, later, a kind of 
living cinematograph and travel -book combined ; 
and, finally, had inadvertently lured with his youth a 
handsome young woman into the paternal net. But 
he knew that he could procure no further satisfaction 
to this satiated parent. He could be henceforth a 
source only of irritation and expense. 

After dinner he walked along the boulevard. The 
dark made him adventurous. He peered into caf^s 
as he passed. He noticed it was already eight. 
Supposing he should meet some of the women on the 
way to Fraulein Lipmann's ? He made a movement 
as though to turn down a side-street and hide himself 
at thought of possible confrontation. Next moment 
he was walking on obstinately in the direction of the 
Lipmann's house. His weakness drew him on, back 
into the vortex. Anything, death, and annihilation, 
was better than going back into that terrible colourless 
mood. His room, the cafe, waited for him like 
executioners. He had escaped from it for a time. 
Late agitations had given him temporary freedom, 
to which he was now committed. Dressed as he was, 
extremely untidy, he would go to Fraulein Lipmann's 
flat. Only humiliation he knew awaited him in that 
direction. If Anastasya were there (he would have 
it that she would be found wherever he least would 
care to see her) then anything might happen. But 
he wanted to suffer still more by her ; physically, as 
it were, under her eyes. That would be a relief from 
present suffering. He must look in her eyes ; he 
must excite in her the maximum of contempt and 

118 



dislike. He wanted to be in her presence again, with 
full consciousness that his mechanical idyll was barred 
by Fate. Not strong enough to leave things as they 
were, he could not go away with this incomplete 
and, physically, uncertain picture behind him. It was 
as though a man had lost a prize and wanted written 
and stamped statement that he had lost it. He 
wished to shame her. If he did not directly insult 
her, he would at least insult her by thrusting himself 
on her. Then, at height of her disgust, he would 
pretend again to make advances. 

As to the rest of the party, a sour glee possessed 
him at thought of their state by the time he had done 
with them. He already saw their faces in fancy 
when he should ring their bell and present himself, 
old morning suit, collar none too clean, dusty boots. 
All this self-humiliation and suffering he was preparing 
for.himself was wedded with the thought of retaliation. 
Kreisler's schooldays could have supplied him with 
a parallel if he could have thought just then. He 
saw a curious scene proceeding beneath a desk in 
class. The boy next to him had jabbed his neighbour 
in the hand with a penknife. The latter, pale with 
fury, held his hand out in sinister invitation, hissing, 
"■Do it again ! do it again ! " The boy next to 
Kreisler complied. " Do it again ! " came still fiercer. 
He seemed to want to see his hand a mass of wounds 
and delect himself with the awful feeling of his own 
rage. Kreisler did not know how he should wipe 
out this debt with the world, but he wanted it bigger, 
more crushing. The bitter fascination of suffering 
drew him on to substitute real wounds for imaginary. 

Near Fraulein Lipmann's house he rubbed his 
shoulder against a piece of whitewashed wall with 
a grin. He went rapidly up the stairs leading to 
her flat on the entresol, considering a scheme for the 
commencement of the evening. This seemed so 
happy that he felt further resourcefulness in mis- 
conduct would not be wanting. 



119 



PART III. 
BOUEGEOIS-BOHEMIANS 

CHAPTEE I 

Kriesler pressed the bell. It was a hoarse low 
z-like blast, braying softly into the crowded room. 
Kreisler still stood safely outside the door. 

There was a rush in the passage : the hissing and 
spitting sounds inseparable from the speaking of the 
German tongue. Some one was spitting louder than 
the rest, and squealing dully as well. They were 
females disputing among themselves the indignity 
of door-openers. The most anxious to please gained 
the day. 

The door was pulled ajar ; an arch voice said : 

" Wer ist das ? " 

" Ich bin's, Fraulein Lunken." 

The roguish and vivacious voice died away, how- 
ever. The opening of the door showed in the dark 
vestibule Bertha Lunken with her rather precious 
movements and German robustness. 

His disordered hair, dusty boots and white patch 
on the jacket had taken effect. 

" Who is it ? " a voice cried from within. 

" It's Herr Kreisler," Bertha answered with 
dramatic quietness. " Come in Herr Kreisler ; there 
are still one or two to come." She spoke in a business- 
like way, and bustled to close the door, to efface 

120 



politely her sceptical reception of him by her hand- 
some, wondering eyes. 

" Ah, Herr Kreisler ! I wonder where Fraulein 
Vasek is ? " he heard some one saying. 

He looked for a place to hang his hat. Fraulein 
Lunken preceded him into the room. Her expression 
was that of an embarrassed domestic foreseeing 
horror in his master's eye. Otto appeared in his 
turn. The chatter seemed to him to swerve a little 
bit at his right. Bowing to two or three people he 
knew near the door, he went over to Fraulein Lip- 
mann, and bending respectfully down, kissed her 
hand. Then with a naive air, but conciliatory, 
began : 

" A thousand pardons, Fraulein Lipmann, for 
presenting myself like this. Volker and I have 
been at Fontenay-aux-Boses all the afternoon. We 
made a mistake about the time of the trains and I 
have only just got back ; I hadn't time to change. 
I suppose it doesn't matter ? It will be quite 
intime and bohemian, won't it ? Volker had 
something to do. He's coming on to the dance later 
if he can manage it." 

This cunning, partly affected, with a genuinely 
infantile glee, served him throughout the evening. 
While waiting at the door he had hit on this ridiculous 
fib. Knowing how welcome Volker was and almost 
sure of his not turning up, he would use him to cover 
the patch from the whitewashed wall. But he would 
get other patches and find other lies to cover them 
up till he could hardly move about for this plastering 
of small falsehoods. 

Fraulein Lipmann had been looking at him with 
indecision. 

"I am glad Herr Volker's coming. I haven't 
seen him for some weeks. You've plenty of time to 
change, you know, if you like. Herr Ekhart and 
several others haven't turned up yet. You live 
quite near, don't you, Herr Kreisler ? " 

' Yes, third to the right and second to the left, 
and keep straight on ! But I don't think I'll trouble 

121 



about it. I will do like this. I think I'll do, don't 
you, Fraulein Lipmann ? " He took a couple of 
steps and looked at himself complacently in a 
glass. 

" You are the best judge of that." 

" Yes, that is so, isn't it, Fraulein ? I have often 
thought that. How curious the same notion should 
come to you ! " Again Kreisler smiled, and affecting 
to consider the question as settled turned to a man 
standing near him, with whom he had worked at 
Juan Soler's. His hostess moved away, in doubt 
as to whether he intended to go and change or not. 
He was, perhaps, just talking to his friend a moment 
before going. 

The company was not " mondain " but " interest- 
ing." It was rather on its mettle on this occasion, 
both men and women in their several ways, dressed. 
An Englishwoman who was friendly with Fraulein 
Lipmann was one of the organizers of the Bonnington 
Club. Through her they had been invited there. 
Five minutes later Kreisler found Fraulein Lipmann 
in his neighbourhood again. 

This lady had a pale fawn-coloured face, looking 
like the protagonist of a crime passionel. She multi- 
plied her social responsibilities at every turn. But 
her manner implied that the quite ordinary burdens 
of life were beyond her strength. The two rooms 
with folding doors, which formed her salon and 
where her guests were now gathered, had not been 
furnished at haphazard. The " Concert " of Gior- 
gione did not hang there for nothing. The books 
lying about had been flung down by a careful hand. 
Fraulein Lipmann required a certain sort of admira- 
tion. But she had a great contempt for other people, 
and so drew up, as it were, a list of her attributes, 
carefully and distinctly underlining each. With 
each new friend she went over again the elementary 
points, as a schoolmistress would go over with each 
new pupil the first steps of grammar or geography, 
position of his locker, where the rulers were put, 
etc. She took up her characteristic attitudes, 

122 



one after the other, as a model might ; that is, 
those simplest and easiest to grasp. 

Her room, dress and manner were a sort of chart 
to the way to admire Fraulein Lipmann ; the different 
points in her soul one was to gush about, the different 
hints one was to let fall about her " rather " tragic 
life-story, the particular way one was to regard her 
playing of the piano. You felt that there was not a 
candlestick, or antimacassar in the room but had 
its lesson for you. To have two or three dozen people, 
her " friends," repeating things after her in this way 
did not give her very much satisfaction. But she 
had a great many of the characteristics of the " school- 
marm," and she continued uninterruptedly with her 
duties teaching " Lipmann " with the solemnity, 
resignation and half-weariness, with occasional bursts 
of anger, that a woman would teach " twice two are 
four, twice three are six." Her best friends were 
her best pupils, of course. 

The rooms were furnished with somewhat the 
severity of the schoolroom, a large black piano — for 
demonstrations — corresponded more or less to the 
blackboard. 

" Herr Schnitzler just tells me that dress is de 
rigueur. Miss Bennett says it doesn't matter ; but 
it would be awkward if you couldn't get in." She 
was continuing their late conversation. " You see 
it's not so much an artists' club as a place where the 
English Societe permanente in Paris meet." 

" Yes, I see ; of course, that makes a difference ! 
But I asked, I happened to ask, an English friend of 
mine to-day — a founder of the club, Master Lowndes " 
(this was a libel on Lowndes), " he told me it didn't 
matter a bit. You take my word for it, Fraulein 
Lipmann, it won't matter a bit," he reiterated a 
little boisterously, nodding his head sharply, his 
eyelids flapping like metal shutters rather than 
winking. Then, in a maundering tone, yawning a 
little and rubbing his glasses as though they had now 
idled off into gossip and confidences : 

" I'd go and dress only I left my keys at Soler's. I 
123 



shall have to sleep out to-night, I shan't be able to 
get my keys till the morning." Suddenly in a new 
tone, the equivalent of a vulgar wink : 

" Ah, this life, Fraulein ! It's accidents often 
separate one from one's ' smokkin ' for days ; some- 
times weeks. My ' smokkin ' leads a very independent 
life. Sometimes it's with me, sometimes not. It was 
a very expensive suit. That has been its downfall." 

" Do you mean you haven't got &frac ? " 

" Wo, not that. You misunderstand me." He 
reflected a moment. 

" Ah, before I forget, Fraulein Lipmann ! If you 
still want to know about that little matter : I wrote 
to my mother the other day. In her reply she tells 
me that Professor Heymann is still at Karlsruhe. 
He will probably take a class in the country this 
summer as usual. The remainder of the party ! " 
he added as the bell again rang. 

He could not be brutally prevented from accom- 
panying them to the dance. But with his remark 
about Volker he felt as safe as if he had a ticket or 
passe-partout in his pocket. 

Kreisler was standing alone nearly in the middle 
of the room, his arms folded and staring at the door. 
He would use this fictitious authority and licence 
to its utmost limit. Some of the others were con- 
scious of something unusual in his presence besides 
his dress and the disorder even of that. They 
supposed he had been drinking. 

There were rustlings and laughter in the hall for 
some minutes. Social facts, abstracted in this 
manner, appealed to the mind with the strangeness 
of masks, each sense, isolated, being like a mask on 
another. Anastasya appeared. She came out of 
that social flutter astonishingly inapposite, like a 
mask come to life. The little fanfare of welcome 
continued. She was much more outrageous than 
Kreisler could ever hope to be : bespangled and 
accoutred like a princess of the household of Peter 
the Great jangling and rumbling like a savage 
showman through abashed capitals. 

124 



Her amusement often had been to disinter in 
herself the dust and decorations of some ancestress. 
She would float down the windings of her Great 
Eussian and Little Eussian blood, living in some 
imagined figure for a time as you might in towns on a 
stream. 

" We are new lives for our ancestors, not theirs 
a playground for us. We are the people who have 
the Eeality." Tarr lectured her later, to which she 
replied : 

" But they had such prodigious lives ! I don't 
like being anything out and out, life is so varied. I 
like wearing a dress with which I can enter into any 
milieu or circumstances. That is the only real self 
worth the name." 

Anastasya regarded her woman's beauty as a 
bright dress of a harlot ; she was only beautiful for 
that. Her splendid and bedizened state was assumed 
with shades of humility. Even her tenderness and 
peculiar heart appeared beneath the common infection 
and almost disgrace of that state. 

The Bonnington Club was not far off and they had 
decided to walk, as the night was fine. It was about 
h&lf-past nine when they started. Seven or eight 
led the way in a suddenly made self-centred group ; 
once outside in the spaciousness of the night streets 
the party seemed to break up into sections held 
together in the small lighted rooms within — Soltyk 
and his friend, still talking, and a quieter group, 
followed. 

Fraulein Lunken had stayed behind with another 
girl, to put out the lights. Instead of running on 
with her companion to join the principal group, she 
stopped with Kreisler, whom she had found bringing 
up the rear alone. 

" Not feeling gregarious to-night % " she asked. 

Kreisler waited slowly, increasing, at ever step, the 
distance between them and the next group, as though 
hoping that, should he draw her far enough back in 
the rear, like an elastic band she would in panic shoot 

125 



forward. " Did lie know many English people ? " 
and she continued in a long eulogy of that race. 
Kreisler murmured and muttered sceptically. And 
she seemed then to be saying something about 
Soler's, and eventually to be recommending him a 
new Spanish professor of some sort. 

Kreisler cursed this chatterer and her complaisance 
in accompanying him. 

" I must get some cigarettes," he said briskly, as a 
bureau de tabac came in sight. " But don't you 
wait, Fraulein. Catch the others up." 

Having purposely loitered over his purchase, when 
he came out on the Boulevard again there she was 
waiting for him. " Aber ! aber ! what's the matter 
with her ? " Kreisler asked himself in impatient 
astonishment. 

What was the matter with Bertha ? Many things, 
of course. Among old general things was a state 
hardly of harmony with the Lipmann circle. She was 
rather suspect for her too obvious handsomeness. It 
was felt that she was perhaps a little too interested in 
the world. She was not quite obedient enough in spirit 
to the Lipmann. Even nuances of disrespect had 
been observed. Then Tarr had turned up nearly 
at the commencement of her incorporation. This 
was an eternal thorn in their sides, and chronic source 
of difficulty. Tarr was uncompromisingly absent 
from all their gatherings, and bowed to them, when 
met in the street, as it seemed to them, narquoise- 
ment, derisively, even. He had been excom- 
municated long ago, most loudly by Fraulein Van 
Bencke. 

" Homme sensuel ! " she had called him. She 
averred she had caught his eye resting too intently 
on her well-filled-out bosom. 

" Homme 6goiste ! " (this referred to his treatment 
of Bertha, supposed and otherwise). 

Tarr considered that these ladies were partly in- 
duced to continue their friendship for Bertha in a 
hope of disgusting her of her fianc6, or doing as much 
harm to both as possible. 

126 



Bertha alternately went to them a little for 
sympathy, and defied them with a display of his 
opinions. 

Kreisler had lately been spoken about uncharitably 
among them. By inevitable analogy he had, in her 
mind, been pushed into the same boat with Tarr. 
She always felt herself a little without the circle. 

So, Bertha, still in this unusual way clinging to 
him (although she had ceased plying him with con- 
yersation) they proceeded along the solitary back- 
water of Boulevard in which they were. Pipes lay 
all along the edge of excavations to their left, large 
flaccid surface-machinery of the City. They tramped 
on under the small uniform trees Paris is planted with, 
a tame and insipid obsession. 

Kreisler ignored his surroundings. He was trans- 
porting himself, self -guarded Siberian exile, from one 
cheerless place to another. To Bertha Nature still 
had the usual florid note. The immediate impression 
caused by the moonlight was implicated with a 
thousand former impressions : she did not dis- 
criminate. It was the moon illumination of several 
love affairs. Kreisler, more restless, renovated his 
susceptibility every three years or so. The moon- 
light for him was hardly nine months old, and belonged 
to Paris, where there was no romance. For Bertha 
the darkened trees rustled with the delicious and 
tragic suggestions of the passing of time and lapse of 
life. The black unlighted windows of the tall houses 
held within, for her, breathless and passionate forms, 
engulfed in intense eternities of darkness and whispers. 
Or a lighted one, in its contrast to the bland light of 
the moon, so near, suggested something infinitely 
distant. There was something fatal in the rapid 
never-stopping succession of their footsteps — loud, 
deliberate, continual noise. 

Her strange companion's dreamy roughness, this 
romantic enigma of the evening, suddenly captured 
her fancy. The machine and indiscriminate side of 
her awoke. 

She took his hand — rapid, soft and humble, she 
127 



struck the deep German chord, vibrating rudiment- 
arily in the midst of his cynicism. 

" You are suffering ! I know you are suffering. 
I wish I could do something for you* Cannot If" 

Kreisler began tickling the palm of her hand 
slightly. When he saw it interrupted her words, he 
stopped, holding her hand solemnly as though it had 
been a fish slipped there for some unknown reason. 
Having her hand — her often-trenchant hand with its 
favourite gesture of sentimental over-emphasis — 
captive, made her discourse almost quiet. 

" I know you have been wronged and wounded. 
Treat me as a sister : let me help you. You think 
my behaviour odd : do you think I'm a funny girl ? 
But, ah ! we walk about and torment each other 
enough ! I knew you were not drunk, but were half- 
cracked with something — Perhaps you had better 
not come on to this place ■" 

He quickened his steps, and still gazing stolidly 
ahead, drew her by the hand. 

" I only should like you to feel I am your friend," 
she said. 

" Eight ! " with promptness came through his 
practical moustache. 

" You're afraid I — " she looked at the ground, he 
ahead. 

" No," he said, " but you shall know my secret ! 
Why should not I avail myself of your sympathy ? 
You must know that my frac — useful to waiters, 
that is why I get so much for the poor suit — this 
frac is at present not in my lodgings. No. That 
seems puzzling to you ? Have you ever noticed an 
imposing edifice in the Eue de Eennes, with a foot- 
soldier perpetually on guard f Well, he mounts 
guard, night and day, over my suit ! " Kreisler 
pulled his moustache with his free hand — " Why 
keep you in suspense? My frac is not on my 
back because — it is in pawn ! Now, Fraulein, that 
you are acquainted with the cause of my slight, 
rather wistful, meditative appearance, you will be 
able to sympathize adequately with me!" 

128 



She was crying a little, engrossed directly, now, in 
herself. 

He thought he should console her. 

" Those are the first tears ever shed over my 
frac. But do not distress yourself, Fraulein 
Lunken. The gargons have not yet got it ! " 

Kreisler did not distinguish Bertha much from the 
others. At the beginning he was distrustful in a 
mechanical way at her advances. If not " put up " 
to doing this, she at least hailed from a quarter that 
was conspicuous for Teutonic solidarity. Now he 
accepted her present genuineness, but ill-temperedly 
substituted complete boredom for mistrust, and at 
the same time would use this little episode to embellish 
his programme. 

He had not been able to shake her off : it was 
astonishing how she had stuck : and here she still 
was ; he was not even sure yet that he had the best 
of it. His animosity for her friends vented itself on 
her. He would anyhow give her what she deserved 
for her disagreeable persistence. He shook her hand 
again. Then suddenly he stopped, put his arm 
round her waist, and drew her forcibly against him. 
She succumbed to the instinct to " give up," and 
even sententiously " destroy." She remembered her 
resolve — a double one of sacrifice — and pressed her 
lips, shaking and wettened, to his. This was not the 
way she had wished : but, God ! what did it matter ? 
It mattered so little, anything, and above all she ! 
This was what she had wanted to do, and now she 
had done it ! 

The " resolve " was a simple one. In hazy, 
emotional way, she had been making up her mind to it 
ever since Tarr had left that afternoon. He wished 
to be released, did not want her, was irked, not so 
much by their formal engagement as by his liking 
for her (this kept him, she thought she discerned). 
A stone hung round his neck, he fretted the whole 
time, and it would always be so. Good. This she 
understood. Then she would release him. But 
since it was not merely a question of words, of saying 

129 I 



" we are no longer engaged " (she had already been 
very free with them), but of acts and facts, she must 
bring these substantialities about. By putting her- 
self in the most definite sense out of his reach and 
life — far more than if she should leave Paris, their 
continuance of relations must be made impossible. 
Somebody else — and a somebody else who was at 
the same time nobody, and who would evaporate 
and leave no trace the moment he had served her 
purpose — must be found. She must be able to stare 
pityingly and resignedly, but silently, if he were 
mentioned. Kreisler exactly filled this ticket. And 
he arose not too unnaturally. 

This idea had been germinating while Tarr was 
still with her that morning. 

So, a prodigality and profusion of self-sacrifice 
being offered her in the person of Kreisler, she behaved 
as she did. 

This clear and satisfactory action displayed her 
Prussian limitation ; also her pleasure with herself, 
that done. Should Tarr wish it undone, it could 
easily be so. The smudge on Kreisler's back was a 
guarantee, and did the trick in more ways than he had 
counted on. But in any case his whole personality 
was a perfect alibi for the heart, to her thinking. 
At the back of her head there may have been some- 
thing in the form of a last attempt here. With the 
salt of jealousy, and a really big row, could Tarr 
perhaps be landed and secured even now ? 

In a moment, the point so gained, she pushed 
Kreisler more or less gently away. It was like a stage- 
kiss. The needs of their respective roles had been 
satisfied. He kept his hands on her biceps. She 
was accomplishing a soft withdrawal. They had 
stopped at a spot where the Boulevard approached 
a more populous and lighted avenue. As they now 
stood a distinct, yet strangely pausing, female voice 
struck their ears. 

" Fraulein Lunken ! " 

Some twenty yards away stood several of her 
companions, who, with fussy German sociableness, 

130 



had returned to carry her forward with them, as they 
were approaching the Bonnington Club. Finding 
her not with them, and remembering she had lagged 
behind, with some wonderment they had walked 
back to the head of the Boulevard. They now saw 
quite plainly what was before them, but were in that 
state in which a person does not believe his eyes, 
and lets them bulge until they nearly drop out, to 
correct their scandalous vision. Kreisler and Bertha 
were some distance from the nearest lamp and in the 
shade of the trees. But each of the spectators would 
have sworn to the identity and attitude of their 
two persons. 

Bertha nearly jumped out of her skin, broke away 
from Kreisler, and staggered several steps. He, 
with great presence of mind, caught her again, and 
induced her to lean against a tree, saying curtly : 
" You're not quite well, Fraulein. Lean — so. Your 
friends will be here in a moment." 

Bertha accepted his way out. She turned, indeed, 
rather white and sick, and even succeeded so far 
as to half believe her lie, while the women came up. 
Kreisler called out to the petrified and quite silent 
group at the end of the avenue. Soon they were 
surrounded by big-eyed faces. Hypocritical concern 
soon superseded the masks of scandal. 

" She was taken suddenly ill." Kreisler coughed 
conventionally as he said this, and flicked his 
trousers as though he had been scuffling on the 
grpund. 

Indignant glances were cast at him. Whatever 
attitude they might take up towards their erring 
friend, there was no doubt as to their feeling towards 
Mm. He was to blame from whichever way you 
looked at it. They eventually, with one or two 
curious German glances into her eyes, slow, dubious, 
incredulous questions, with a drawing back of the 
head and dying away of voice, determined temporarily 
to accept her explanation. To one of them, very 
conversant with her relations with Tarr, vistas of 
possible ruptures and commotions opened. Here 

131 



was a funny affair ! With Kreisler, of all people — 
Tarr was bad enough ! 

Bertha would at once have returned home, carrying 
out the story of sudden indisposition. But she felt 
the only thing was to brave it out. She did not want 
to absent herself at once. The affair would be less 
conspicuous with her not away. Her friends must 
at once ratify their normal view of this little happen- 
ing. The only thing she thought of for the moment 
was to hush up and obliterate what had just happened. 
Her heroism disappeared in the need for action. 
So they all walked on together, a scandalized silence 
subsisting in honour chiefly of Kreisler. 

Again he was safe, he thought with a chuckle. His 
position was precarious, only he held Fraulein Lunken 
as hostage ! Exception could not openly be taken 
to him, without reflecting on their friend. He 
walked along with perfect composure, mischievously 
detached and innocent. 

Fraulein Lipmann and the rest had already gone 
inside. Several people were arriving in taxis and on 
foot. Kreisler got in without difficulty. He was the 
only man present not in evening-dress. 



CHAPTEE II 

One certain thing amongst many uncertainties about 
the English club, the Bonnington Club, was that 
it had not yet found itself quite. Its central room 
(and that was all there was of it — a shell of a 
house) reminded you of a public swimming-bath 
when it was used as a ballroom, and when used 
as a studio you thought of a concert -hall. But one 
had a respect for it. It had cost a good deal to build. 
It was quite phenomenally handsome as seen from 
the street, and w^as grateful. It made a cheerful show, 
with pink, red, and pale blue paper-chains and Chinese 
lanterns, one week for some festivity ; and the next, 
sparely robed in dark red curtains, would settle its 

132 



walls gravely to receive some houseless quartet. 
In this manner it paid its way. Some phlegmatic 
but obstinate power had brought it into existence. 
" Pound a club, found a club ! " it had reiterated in 
the depths of certain anonymous minds, with sle ; epy 
tenacity. Some one sighed, got up and went round 
to another, and said perhaps a club had better be 
founded. The other assented and subscribed some- 
thing, to get rid of the other. In the course of time 
a young French architect had been entrusted with 
the job. A club. Yes. What sort of a club ? The 
architect could not find out. Something to be used 
for drawing-classes, social functions, a reading-room, 
etc. He saw he was on the wrong tack. He went 
away and made his arrangements accordingly. He 
produced a design of an impressive and to all appear- 
ance finished house. It was a sincerely ironic master- 
piece, but with a perfect gravity, and even stateliness, 
of appearance. It was the most non-committing 
facade, the most absolutely unfinal interior, the most 
tentative set of doors, ever seen : a monster of 
reservation. 

Not only had it been put to every conceivable use 
itself, but it dragged the club with it, as it were. 
The club changed and metamorphosed itself with 
its changes. The club became athletic or sedentary 
according to the shifts and exigencies of the building's 
existence. The members turned out in dress-clothes 
or gymnasium get-ups as the building's destiny 
prompted, to back it up. One month they would 
h&ve to prove that it was a gymnasium, the next that 
it was a drawing-school. 

The inviting of the German contingent was a busi- 
ness move. They might be enticed into membership, 
and would in any event spread the fame of the club, 
getting and subsequently giving some conception of 
the resources of the club-house building. The salle 
was arranged very prettily. The adjoining rooms 
were hung with the drawings and paintings of the 
club members. 

Kreisler ever since the scene on the boulevard had 
133 



felt a reckless gaiety and irresponsibility, which he 
did not conceal. 

With his abashed English hostess he carried on a 
strange conversation full of indirect references to the 
" stately edifice in the Eue de Eennes." He had 
spoken of it to Bertha : " That stately edifice in the 
Bue de Eennes — but of course you don't know it ! " 

With smiling German ceremoniousness, with in- 
genious circumlocutions, he bent down to his hostess's 
nervously smiling face and poured into her startled 
ear symbols and images of pawnshops, usury, three 
gold balls, " pious mountains," " smokkin " or " frac " 
suits, etc., which he seemed a little to confuse, over- 
whelmed her with a serious terminology, all in a dialect 
calculated to bewilder the most acute philologist. 

" Yes, it is interesting," she said with strained 
conviction. 

" Isn't it 1 " Kreisler replied. It was a compara- 
tive estimate of the facilities for the disposing of a 
watch in Germany and France. 

" I'm going to introduce you, Herr Kreisler, to a 
friend of mine — Mrs. Bevelage." 

She wanted to give the German guests a particu- 
larly cordial reception. Kreisler did not seem, super- 
ficially, a great acquisition to any club, but he was 
with the others. As a means of concluding this very 
painful interview — he was getting nearer every minute 
to the word that he yet solemnly forbade himself 
the use of — she led him to a self- controlled remnant 
of beautiful womanhood who had a reputation with 
her for worldliness. Mrs. Bevelage could listen to 
all this, and would be able to cope with a certain 
disquieting element she recognized in the German. 

He saw the reason of this measure ; and, looking 
with ostentatious regret at a long-legged flapper seated 
next door, cast a reproachful glance at his hostess. 

Left alone with the widow, he surveyed her ample 
and worldly form. 

" Get thee to a nunnery ! " he said dejectedly. 

" I beg your pardon ? " 

11 Yes. You have omitted ' my lord.' " 
134 



Mrs. Bevelage looked pleased and puzzled. Pos- 
sibly he was a count or baron. 

" Do you know that stingy but magnificent 
edifice " 

" Yes ! " 



" That handsome home of precarious ' fracs ' in 
the Eue de Eennes ? " 

" I'm afraid I don't quite understand — " The 
widow had not got used to his composite tongue. 
She liked Kreisler, however. 

" Shall we dance ? " he said, getting up quickly. 

He clasped her firmly in the small of the back and 
they got ponderously in motion, he stamping a little 
bit, as though he mistook the waltz for a more 
primitive music. 

He took her twice, with ever-increasing velocity, 
round the large hall, and at the third round, at break- 
neck speed, spun with her in the direction of the 
front door. 

The impetus was so great that she, although 
seeing her peril, could not act sufficiently as a break 
on her impetuous companion to avert the disaster. 
Another moment and they would have been in the 
street, amongst the traffic, a disturbing meteor, 
whizzing out of sight, had they not met the alarmed 
resistance of a considerable English family entering 
the front door as Kreisler bore down upon it. It 
was one of those large, featureless, human groups 
built up by a frigid and melancholy pair, uncannily 
fecund, during interminable years of blankness. They 
received this violent couple in their midst. The rush 
took Kreisler and his partner half-way through, and 
there they stood embedded and unconscious for 
many seconds. The English family then, with great 
dignity, disgorged them and moved on. 

The widow had come somewhat under the fascina- 
tion of Kreisler's mood. She was really his woman, 
had he known it. She felt wrapt in the midst of a 
simoon — she had not two connected thoughts. All 
her worldliness and measured management of her fat 
had vanished. Her face had become coarsened in a 

135 



few minutes. But she buzzed back again into the 
dance and began a second, mad, but this time merely- 
circular career. 

Kreisler was very careful, whatever he did, to find 
a reason for it. " He was abominably short-sighted ; 
he had mistaken the front door for one leading into 
the third room, merely." His burden, not in the 
best condition, was becoming more and more puffed, 
and heavier every moment. When satisfied with 
this part of his work he led Mrs. Bevelage into a 
sort of improvised conservatory and talked about 
pawnshops for ten minutes or so — in a mixture of 
French, English, and German. He then reconducted 
her, more dead than alive, to her seat, and strode off 
from her with great sweeps of his tall figure. 

He had during this incident regained complete 
impassivity. He stalked away to the conservatory. 



Bertha had soon been called on to dance vigorously 
without much intermission. In the convolutions of 
the valse, however, she matured a bold and new plan. 
She whirled and trotted with a preoccupied air. 

Would Tarr hear of all this f She was alarmed, now 
it was done. Also she was cowed and sorry for her 
action at the thought of Lipmann and Van Bencke's 
attitude towards the Kreisler kissing. She undoubt- 
edly must secure herself. The plan she hit on offered 
a " noble " role that she could not, in any circumstances, 
have resisted. 

Her scheme was plain and clever. She would 
simply " tell the truth." 

" She had recognized something distracting in 
Kreisler's life, the presence of crisis. On an impulse, 
she had offered him her sympathy. He had taken 
up her offer immediately in an astonishing and brutal 
manner. (One against him : two for her !) Such 
direct and lurid sympathy he claimed." 

So she jogged out her strategies in exhilaration 
of the waltzes. 

At this point of her story she would hint, by 
ambiguous hesitation, that she, in truth, had been 

136 



ready even for this sacrifice : had made it, if her 
hearers wished ! She would imply rather that from 
modesty — not wanting to appear too " noble " — she 
refrained from telling them. 

It is true that for such a confession she had many 
precedents. Only a week ago Fraulein Van Bencke 
herself, inflating proudly her stout handsome person, 
had told them that while in Berlin she had allowed 
a young painter to kiss her : she believed " that the 
caresses of a pure woman would be helpful to him at 
that juncture of his life." But this had not been, 
it was to be supposed, in the middle of the street* 
No one had ever seen, or ever would see, the young 
painter in question, or the kiss. 

Busy with these plans, Bertha had not much time 
to notice Kreisler's further deportment. She came 
across him occasionally, and keyed her solid face 
into an intimate flush and such mask as results 
from any sickly physical straining. " Poor mensch ! " 

Soltyk surprised one Anglo-Saxon partner after 
another with his wonderful English — unnecessarily 
like the real thing. He went about surprising people 
in a cold, tireless way, exhibiting no signs of pleasure, 
except as much as was testified to by his action, 
merely. 

Kreisler saw him with Anastasya only twice. On 
those occasions he could not, on the strength of 
Soltyk's attitude, pin him down as a rival. Yet he 
was thirsting for conventional figures. His endless 
dissatisfaction and depression could only be satisfied 
by active things, unlilce itself. Soltyk's self-possessed 
and masterly signs of distinguished camaraderie 
depressed Kreisler very much. The Eussian had 
been there once at the critical moment, and was, more 
distantly, an attribute of Volker. He did not like 
him. How it would satisfy him to dig his fingers 
into that flesh, and tear it like thick cloth ! He was 
"for it" ; he was going out. He was being helped 
off by things. Why did he not shout ? He longed to 
act : the rusty machine had a thirst for action. 
His energies were repudiating their master. 

137 



Soltyk' s analogies with Kreisler worked in the 
dark to some end of mutual destruction. The 
nuance of possibility Soltyk liked his friendships with 
women to have, was a different affair to Kreisler's 
heady and thorough -going intrigues. But he liked 
his soul to be marked with little delicate wounds and 
wistfulnesses. He liked an understanding, a little 
melancholy, with a woman. They would just divine 
in each other possibilities of passion, that was yet 
too lasse and sad to rise to the winding of 
Love's horns that were heard, nevertheless, in a 
decor Versaillesque and Polonais. They were people 
who looked forward as others look back. They would 
say farewell to the future as most men gaze at the past. 
At the most they played the slight dawning and dis- 
appearing of passion, cutting, fastidiously, all the 
rest of the piece. So he was often found with women. 
Life had no lethargic intervals as with Kreisler. It 
at all times needed " expression " of such sort. 

For Anastasya, Soltyk was one of her many im- 
presarios, who helped her on to and off the scene of 
Life. He bored her usually, but they had something 
equivalent to pleasant business relations. She appre- 
ciated him as an Impresario. 

These things arraying themselves in reality after 
this ordinary unexciting fashion, conventional figures 
of drama lacked. Kreisler was in the wrong company. 
But he conformed for the sake of the Invisible Audi- 
ence haunting life. He emulated the matter-of- 
factness and aplomb that impressed him in the 
others a outrance. So much was this so that the 
Audience took some time to notice him, the vein of 
scandal running through the performance. 



In the conservatory he established his head- 
quarters. 

From there he issued forth on various errands. All 
his errands showed the gusto of the logic of his 
personality, and not despair. He might have been 
enjoying himself. He invented outrage that was 

138 



natural to him, and enjoyed slightly the licence and 
scope of his indifference. 

He, for instance, at the first sortie, noticed a rather 
congested, hot, and spectacled young woman, rather 
constantly fluttered over her womanhood, but over- 
worked by her conscience, her features set by duty. 
He succeeded in getting her for a partner, and soon 
won her confidence by his scrupulous German polite- 
ness. He then, while marking time in a crush, dis- 
engaged his hand, and appeared to wish to alter 
the he of her bosom, very apologetically. 

11 Excuse me ! It's awkward. More to the left — 
so ! Clumsy things and women are so proud of them ! 
(No : I'm sure you're not !) No. Let it hang to 
the left ! " The young lady, very red, and snorting 
almost in his face, left him brusquely. 

Several young women, and notably a flapper, 
radiant with heavy inexperience and loaded with 
bristling bronze curls, he lured into the conservatory. 
They all came out with scarlet faces. 

For the first hour he paid no attention to Anastasya, 
but prosecuted his antics as though he had forgotten 
all about her. He knew she was there and left her 
alone, even in thought, in a grim spirit. He hid 
coquettishly behind his solemn laughter-in-aetion, 
the pleasant veil of his hysteria. 

He had become generally noticed in the room, 
although there were a great many people present. 
Fraulein Lipmann hesitated. She thought at length 
that he was mad. In speaking to him and getting 
him removed, she feared a scandalous scene. 



As he appeared on the threshold of the conservatory 
an expectant or anxious tremor invaded several backs. 
But he just stalked round this time on a tour of 
inspection, as though to see that all was going along 
as it should. He stared heavily and significantly 
at those young ladies who had been his partners, 
when he came across them. One he stopped in front 
of and gazed at severely. He then returned to the 
conservatorv. 

139 



In his deck chair, his head stretched back, glasses 
horizontal and facing the ceiling, he considered the 
graceless Hamlet that he was. 

4 * Go to a nunnery, Widow ! " 

He should have been saying that to his 
Ophelia. 

Why did he not go to her f Contact was the essential 
thing, but so difficult to bring about. 

He must make her angry, insult her : that would 
bare her soul. Then he would spit on it. Then he 
really could insult her. But Soltyk offered a con- 
ventional target for violence. Soltyk was evading 
him with his contempt. Soltyk ! What should be 
done with him ? Why (a prolonged and stormily 
rising " why "), there was no difficulty about that 
He got up from his chair, and walked deliberately 
and quickly into the central room. But Soltyk was 
nowhere to be seen. 

The dancers were circling rapidly past with athletic 
elation, talking in the way people talk when they are 
working. Their intelligences floated and flew above 
the waves of the valse, but with frequent drenchings, 
as it were, and cessations. The natural strangeness 
for him of all these English people together did not 
arrest his mind or lead him to observation, but yet 
got a little in the way. Couple followed couple, the 
noise of their feet, or dress, for a moment queerly 
distinct and near above the rest, as though a yard or 
two of quiet surrounded Kreisler. They came into 
this area for a moment, everything distinct and clear 
cut, and then went out again. Each new pair of 
dancers seemed coming straight for him. Their 
voices were loud for a moment. A hole was cut out 
of the general noise, as it were opening a passage into 
it. Each new face was a hallucination of separate 
energy, seeming very distant, laughs, words, move- 
ments. They were like trunkless, living heads 
rolling and bobbing past, a sea of them. The two or 
three instruments behind the screen of palms pro- 
duced the necessary measures to keep this throng of 
people careering, like a spoon stirring in a saucepan. 

140 



It stirred and stirred and they jerked and huddled 
insipidly round and round. 

Kreisler was drawn up at the first door for a minute. 
„ He was just taking a step forward to work his way 
round to the next, when he caught sight of Anastasya 
dancing with (he supposed) some Englishman. 

He stopped, paralysed by her appearance. This 
reality intercepted the course of his imaginary life 
(of which his pursuit of Soltyk was a portion). He 
stood like somebody surprised in a questionable act. 
He had not reckoned on being met by her before 
his present errand was finished. The next moment 
he was furious at this interference ; at her having 
the power to draw him up. This imaginary life 
should grow. Hell and Heaven ! he was not going to 
stop there looking at her. She and her partner had 
drawn up for a moment just in his way, being 
stopped by other couples marking time. She had 
not seen him. He took her partner roughly by the 
arm, pushing him against her, hustling him, fixing 
him with his eye. He passed beyond them then, 
through the passage he had made. His blood was 
flooding him, and making him expand and sink like a 
Eussian dancer. The young man handled in this 
manner, shy and unprompt, stared after Kreisler 
with a " What the devil ! " People are seldom 
so rude in England. Preparation for outbursts of 
potential rudeness form a part of the training of a 
German. Kreisler also, without apology, but as if 
waiting for more vigorous expostulation, was also 
looking back, while he stepped slowly along the wall 
towards a door beyond, the one leading to the re- 
freshment-room. 

Anastasya freed herself at once from her partner 
and pale and frowning (but as though waiting) was 
looking after Kreisler curiously. She would have 
liked him to stop. He had done something strange 
and was as suddenly going away. That was unsatis- 
factory. They looked at each other blankly. He 
showed no sign of stopping : she just stared. Sud- 
denly it was comic. She burst out laughing. But 

141 



they had clashed, like people in the dance, and were 
both disappearing from each other again, the shock 
hardly over. The contact had been brought about. 
He was still as surprised at his action, which had been 
done " in a moment," as she was. Anastasya felt, 
too, in what way this had been contact. She felt his 
hand on her arm as though it had been she he had 
seized. This rough figure disappeared in the doorway, 
as incapable of explaining anything. She shivered 
nervously as she grasped her partner's arm again, 
at this merely physical contact " What's the matter 
with that chap ? " her partner asked, conscious of a 
lameness, but of something queer going on. This 
question had been asked a few minutes before else- 
where. " Herr Kreisler is behaving very strangely. 
Do you think he's been drinking ? " Fraulein Lipmann 
had asked Eckhart. 

Eckhart was a little drunk himself. He took a 
very decided view of Kreisler' s case. 

" Comme toute la Pologne ! As drunk as the 
whole of Poland ! " he affirmed. But he only gave 
it as an opinion, adding no sign of particular indigna- 
tion. He was beaming with greedy generosity at his 
great Amoureuse. 

" Ah ! here he comes again ! " said Fraulein Lip- 
mann at the door. (It was when Kreisler had started 
up in search of Soltyk). 

So Kreisler disappeared in the doorway. He 
passed through the refreshment-room. In a small 
room beyond he sat down by an open window. 

Anastasya had at last got into line with him. She 
had been startled, awakened, and had also laughed. 
This was an exact and complete response to Kreisler 
at the present. Something difficult to understand 
and which should have been alarming for a woman, 
the feel of the first tugs of the maelstrom he was pro- 
ducing and conducting all on his own, and which 
required her for its heart : and then laughter, neces- 
sarily, once one was in that atmosphere, like laughing 
gas, with its gusty tickling. 

But this was not how Kreisler felt about it. He 
142 



was boiling and raging. That laugh had driven him 
foaming, fugitive and confused, into the nearest 
chair. He could not turn round and retaliate at the 
time. The door being in front of him, he vanished 
as Mephistopheles might sink with suddenness into 
the floor, at the receipt of some affront, to some 
sulphurous regions beneath, in a second ; come to a 
stop alone, upright ; stick his fingers in his mouth, 
nearly biting them in two, his eyes staring : so stand 
stock still, breathless and haggard for some minutes : 
then shoot up again, head foremost, in some other 
direction, like some darting and skulking fish, to the 
face of the earth. He did not even realize that the 
famous contact was established, so furious was he. 
He would go and strike her across the mouth, spit 
in her face, kiss her in the middle of the dance, where 
the laugh had been ! Yet he didn't move, but sat on 
staring in front of him, quite forgetful where he was 
and how long he had sat there, in the midst of a hot 
riot of thoughts. 

He suddenly sat up and looked round, like a man 
who has been asleep and for whom work is waiting ; 
got up with certain hesitation, and again made for 
the door. Well, life and work (Ms business) must 
be proceeded with all the same. He glanced reflec- 
tively and solemnly about, and perceived the Widow 
talking to a little reddish Englishman. 

" May I take the Widow away for a little ? " he 
asked her companion. 

He always addressed her as " Widow " : he began 
all his discourses with a solemn " Widow ! " occasion- 
ally alternating it with " Derelict ! " But this, all 
uttered in a jumbled tongue, lost some of its 
significance. 

The little Englishman on being addressed gave the 
English equivalent of a jump — a sudden moving of 
his body and shuffling of his feet, still looking at the 
floor, where he had cast his eyes as Kreisler 
approached. 

« what ? I " 

" Widow ! permit me " said Kreisler* 

143 



Manipulating her with a leisurely gusto, he circled 
into the dance. 

The band was playing the " Merry Widow " valse. 

" Merry Widow! " he said smilingly to his partner. 
" Yes, Merry Widow ! " shaking his head at her. 

The music seemed fumbling in a confused mass of 
memory, but finding nothing definite. All it managed 
to bring to light was a small cheap photograph, taken 
at a Bauern Bal, with a flat German student's cap. 
The man remained just his photograph. Their 
hostess also was dancing. Kreisler noted her with a 
wink of recognition. Dancing very slowly, almost 
mournfully, he and his partner bumped into her 
each time as they passed. The Widow felt the impact, 
but it was only at the third round that she perceived 
the method and intention inducing these bumps. 
She realized they were going to collide with the other 
lady. The collision could not be avoided. But she 
shrank away, made herself as small and soft as 
possible, bumped gently and apologized over her 
shoulder, with a smile and screwing up of the eyes, 
full of meaning. At the fourth turn of the room, 
however, Kreisler having increased her speed sensibly, 
she was on her guard, and in fact already suggesting 
that she should be taken back to her seat. He pre- 
tended to be giving their hostess a wide berth this 
time, but suddenly and gently swerved, and bore down 
upon her. The Widow veered frantically, took a 
false step, tripped on her dress, tearing it, and fell 
to the ground. They caused a circular undulating 
commotion throughout the neighbouring dancers 
like a stone falling in a pond. Several people bent 
down to help Mrs. Bevelage — Kreisler's assistance 
was angrily rejected. His partner scrambled to her 
feet and went to the nearest chair, followed by one 
or two people. 

"Who is he? " 

" He's drunk." 

" What happened 1 " 

" He ought to be turned out ! " people said who had 
seen the accident. 

144 






Kreisler regained the conservatory with great 
dignity. 

But now Fraulein Lippmann, alone, appeared 
Jbefore him as he lay stretched in his chair, and said 
in a tight, breaking voice : 

" I think, Herr Kreisler, you would do well now, 
as you have done nothing all the evening but render 
yourself objectionable, to relieve us of your company. 
I don't know whether you're drunk. I hope you 
are, for " 

" You hope I'm drunk, Fraulein % " he asked in an 
astonished voice. 

He remained lolling at full length. 

" A lady I was dancing with fell over, owing 
entirely to her own clumsiness and intractability — 
but perhaps she was drunk ; I didn't think of that." 

" So you're not going ? " 

11 Certainly, Fraulein — when you go ! We'll go 
together." 

11 Schensal ! " Hurling hotly this epithet at him 
— her breath had risen many degrees in temperature 
at its passage, and her breast heaved in dashing it 
out (as though, in fact, the word " schensal " had 
been the living thing, and she were emptying her 
breast of it violently), she left the room. His last 
exploit had been accomplished in a half disillusioned 
state. He merely went on farcing because he could 
think of nothing else to do. Anastasya's laughter 
had upset and ended everything of his " imaginary 
life." He told himself now that he hated her. " Ich 
hasse dich ! Ich hasse dich ! " he hissed over to 
himself, enjoying the wind of the " hasse " in his 
moustaches. But (there was no doubt about it) the 
laugh had crushed him. Eidiculous and hateful 
had been his goal. But now that he had succeeded 
he thought chiefly in the latter affair, he was over- 
whelmed. His vanity was wounded terribly. In 
laughing at him she had puffed out and transformed 
in an extraordinary way, also, his infatuation. For 
the first time since he had first set eyes on her he 
realized her sex. His sensuality had been directly 

145 K 



stirred. He wanted to kiss lier now. He must get 
his month on hers — he mnst revel in the laugh, where 
it grew ! She was nefaste. She was in fact evidently 
the devil. 

So his idee fixe having suddenly taken body and 
acquired flesh, now allied to his senses, the vibration 
became more definitely alarming. He began think- 
ing about her with a slow moistening of the lips. 
" I shall possess her ! " he said to himself, seeing 
himself in the role of the old Berserker warrior, 
ravening and irresistible. The use of the word shall 
in that way was enough. 

But this infernal dance ! With the advent of the 
real feeling all the artificial ones flew or diminished 
at once. He was no longer romantically " desperate," 
but bored with his useless position there. All his 
attention was now concentrated on a practical issue, 
that of the " possession " of Anastasya. 

He was tired as though he had been dancing the 
whole evening. He got up and threw his cigarette 
away ; he even dusted his coat a little with his hand. 
He then, not being able to get at the white patch on 
the shoulder, took it off and shook it. A large grey 
handkerchief was used to flick his boots with. 

" So ! " he grunted, smartly shooting on his coat. 

The central room, when he got into it, appeared a 
different place. People were standing about and 
waiting for the next tune. It had been completely 
changed by his novel and material feeling for Ana- 
stasya. Everything, for a second time, was quite 
ordinary, but not electrically ordinary, almost hushed, 
this time. He had become a practical man, sur- 
rounded by facts. But he was much more worried 
and tired than at the beginning of the evening. 

To get away was his immediate thought. But 
he felt hungry. He went into the refreshment-room. 
On the same side as the door, a couple of feet to the 
right, was a couch. The trestle-bar with the re- 
freshments ran the length of the opposite wall. The 
room was quiet and almost empty. Out of the tail 
of his eye, as he entered, be became conscious of 

146 



something. He turned towards the couch. Soltyk 
and Anastasya were sitting there, and looking at 
him with the abrupt embarrassment people show when 
an absentee under discussion suddenly appears. 
He flushed and was about to turn back to the door. 
But he flushed still more next moment, at thought of 
his hesitation. This humiliating full-stop beneath 
their eyes must be wiped out, anyhow. He walked 
on steadily to the bar. 

A shy consciousness of his physique beset him. 
He felt again an outcast — of an inferior class, socially. 
He must not show this. He must be leisurely. 

He was leisurely. He thought when he stretched 
his hand out to take his cup of coffee that it would 
never reach it. Eeduced to posing nude for Ana- 
stasya and the Eussian was the result of the evening ! 
Scores of little sensations, like troublesome imps, 
herded airily behind him. They tickled him with 
impalpable fingers. 

He munched sandwiches without the faintest 
sense of their taste. Anastasya's eyes were scourging 
him. He felt like a martyr. Suddenly conscious 
of an awkwardness in his legs, he changed his position. 
His arms were ludicrously disabled. The sensation 
of standing neck deep in horrid filth beset him. 
Compelled to remain in soaking wet clothes and 
unable to change them, his body gradually drying 
them, would have been a similar discomfort. The 
noise of the dancing began again, filled the room. 
This purified things somewhat. He got red in the 
fa'ce as though with a gigantic effort, but went on 
staring in front of him. 

His anger kept rising. He stood there deliberately 
longer ; in fact on and on, almost in the same position. 
She should wait his pleasure till he liked to turn 
round, and — then. He allowed her laughter to 
accumulate on his back, like a coat of mud. In his 
illogical vision he felt her there behind him laughing 
and laughing interminably. Had he gone straight 
up to her, in a moment of passion, both disembodied 
as it were, anything in the shape of objective obser- 

147 



vation disappearing, he could have avoided this 
scrutiny. He had preferred to plank himself there 
in front of her, inevitably ridiculous, a mark for that 
laugh of hers. Soltyk was sharing it. More and 
more Ms laughter became intolerable. The tradi- 
tional solution again suggested itself. Laugh ! Laugh ! 
He would stand there letting the debt grow, letting 
them gorge themselves on his back. The attendant 
behind the bar began observing him with severe 
curiosity. He had stood in almost the same position 
for five minutes and kept staring darkly past her, 
very red in the face. Then suddenly a laugh burst 
out behind him — a blow, full of insult, in his ears — 
and he nearly jumped off the ground. After his long 
immobility the jump was of the last drollery. His 
fists clenched, his face emptied of every drop of 
colour, in the mere action he had almost knocked a 
man, standing beside him, over. The laugh, for him, 
had risen with tropic suddenness, a simoom of intoler- 
able offence. It had carried him off his legs, or 
whirled him round rather, in a second. A young 
English girl, already terrified at Kreisler's appearance, 
and a man, almost as much so, stood open-mouthed 
in front of him. As to Anastasya and Soltyk, they 
had very completely disappeared, long before, in all 
probability. 

To find that he had been struggling and perspiring 
in the grasp of a shadow was a fresh offence, merely, 
for the count of the absentees. Obviously, shadow 
or not, there or not there, it was they. He felt this 
a little ; but they had disappeared into the JEwigTceit 
for the moment. He had been again beating the air. 
This should have been a climax, of blows, words, 
definite things. But things remained vague. The 
turmoil of the evening remained his, the solid part 
of it, unshared by anybody else. He smiled, rather 
hideously and menacingly, at the two English people 
near him, and walked away. He was not going in 
search of Anastasya. They would be met somewhere 
or other, no doubt. All he wanted now was to get 
away from the English club as soon as possible. 

148 



While he was making towards the vestibule he was 
confronted again with Fraulein Lipmann. " Herr 
Kreisler, I wish to speak to you," he heard her 
say. 

" Go to the devil ! " he answered without hesitation 
or softness. 

" Besotted fool ! if you don't go at once, I'll 
get " 

Turning on her like lightning, with exasperation 
perfectly meeting hers, his right hand threatening, 
quickly raised towards his left shoulder, he shouted : 

" Lass mich doch — gemeine alte Sau ! " 

The hissing, thunderous explosion was the last 
thing in vocal virulence. The muscles all seemed 
gathered up at his ears like reins, and the flesh 
tightened and white round his mouth. 

Fraulein Lipmann took several steps back. Kreisler 
with equal quickness turned away, rapped on the 
counter, while the attendant looked for his hat, and 
left the Club. Fraulein Lippmann was left with the 
heavy, unforgettable word " sow " deposited in her 
boiling spirit, that, boil as it might, would hardly 
reduce this word to tenderness or digestibility. 



149 



PAKT IV 
A JEST TOO DEEP FOE LAUGHTEE 

CHAPTEE I 

With a little scratching (as the concierge pushed 
it) with the malignity of a little, quiet, sleek 
animal, the letter from Germany crept under the 
door the next morning, and lay there through the 
silence of the next hour or two, until Kreisler 
woke. Succeeding to his first brutal farewells to 
his dreams, no hopes leapt on his body, a magnifi- 
cent stallion's, uselessly refreshed. Soon he saw the 
letter. It lay there quiet, unimportant, rather 
matter of fact and sly. 

Kreisler felt it an indignity to have to open it. 
Until his dressing was finished, it remained where it 
was. He might have been making some one wait. 
Then he took it up, and opening it, drew out between 
his forefinger and thumb, the cheque. This he 
deposited with as much contempt as possible, and a 
" phui " on the edge of his washhand stand. Then he 
turned to the letter. He read the first few lines, 
pumping at a cigarette, reducing it mathmetically to 
ash. Cold fury entered his mind with a bound at the 
first words. They were the final words giving 
notice of a positive stoppage of supplies. This 
month's money was sent to enable him to settle up his 
affairs and come to Germany at once. 

He read the first three lines over and over again, 
going no further, although the news begun in these 

150 



first lines was developed throughout the two pages of 
the letter. Then he put it down beside the cheque, 
and crushing it under his fist, said monotonously to 
himself, without much more feeling than the sound of 
the word contained : " Schwein, Schwein, Schwein ! " 
He got up, and pressed his hand on his forehead ; 
it was wet : he put his hands in his pockets and these 
came into contact with a cinquante centime piece. 
He took them out again slowly, went to his box 
and underneath an old dressing-gown found writing 
paper and envelopes. Then, referring to his father's 
letter for the date, he wrote the following lines : 

" 1th June 19— 
"Sir, — I shall not return as you suggest in 
person, but my body will no doubt be sent to you 
about the middle of next month. If — keeping to 
your decision — no money is sent, it being impossible 
to live without money, I shall on the seventh of 
July, this day next month, shoot myself. 

"Otto Kreisler." 

Within half an hour this was posted. Then he 
went and had breakfast with more tranquillity and 
relish than he had known for some days. He sat up 
stiffly like a dilapidated but apparently in some way 
satisfied rooster at his caf6 table. This life was now 
settled, pressure ceased. He had come to a conven- 
tional and respectable decision. His conduct the 
night before, for instance, had not been at all respect- 
able. Death — like a monastery — was before him, 
with equivalents of a slight shaving of the head 
merely, a handful of vows, some desultory farewells, 
very restricted space, but none the worse for that ; 
with something like the disagreeableness of a dive for 
one not used to deep water. But he had got into life, 
anyhow, by mistake; il s'etait trompe de porte. His 
life might almost have been regarded as a long and 
careful preparation for voluntary death. The night- 
mare of Death, as it haunted the imaginations of the 
Egyptians, had here been conjured in another way. 

151 



Death was not to be overcome with embalmings and 
Pyramids, or fought within the souls of children. It 
was confronted as some other more uncompromising 
race (and yet also haunted by this terrible idea) 
might have been. 

Instead of rearing smooth faces of immense stone 
against it, you imagine an unparalleled immobility 
in life, a race of statues, throwing flesh in Death's 
path instead of basalt. Kreisler would have un- 
doubtedly been a high priest among this people. 



CHAPTEE II 

In a large fluid but nervous handwriting, the following 
letter lay, read, as it were : Bertha still keeping her 
eye on it from a distance : 

11 Dear Bertha, — I am writing at the Gare St. 
Lazare, on my way to England. You have made 
things much easier for me in one way of course, far 
more difficult in another. Parenthetically, I may 
mention that the whimsical happenings between 
you and your absurd countryman in full moonlight 
are known to me. They were recounted with a 
wealth of detail that left nothing to the imagination, 
happily for my peculiar possessive sensitiveness, 
known to you. I don't know whether that little 
red-headed bitch — the colour of Iscariot, so perhaps 
she is — is a friend of yours ? Kreisler ! I was 
offered an introduction to him the other day, 
which I refused. It seems he has introduced 
himself ! 

" Before, I had contemplated retiring to a little 
distance for the purpose of reflection. This last 
coup of yours necessitates a much further 
recul, withdrawal — a couple of hundred miles at 
least, I have judged. And as far as I can see I shall 
be some months — say ten — away. I am not wise 
enough to take your action an pied de la lettre; 
152 



nevertheless, you may consider yourself free as 
women go. What I mean is you need not trouble 
to restrain the exuberance of your exploits in future. 
(What rubbish !) Let them develop naturally, 
right up to fianp allies, or elsewhere. I have a very 
German idea. Why should not girls have two or 
three fiances ! Not two or three husbands. But 
fianc£, especially nowadays, is an elastic term. 
Why shouldn't fianc6 take the place of husband ? 
It is a very respectable word : a very respectable 
state. But my idea was that of a club, organized 
around the fiancee. You seem to me cut out for 
such a club. A man might spend quite a pleasant 
time with the other fiances. A fine science of 
women would be developed, perhaps along Oriental 
lines a little. Then a man would remember the 
different clubs he had belonged to. Some very 
beautiful women might have a sort of University 
settled near them. To have belonged to one of 
these celebrated but ephemeral institutions would 
insure a man success with less illustrious queens. 
1 He was a fianc6 of Fraulein Stuck's, you know,' 
would carry prestige. You have Germanized me 
in a horrible way ! Anyhow, you may count on me 
should you think of starting a little institution of 
that sort. My address for the next few months 
will be 10 Waterford Street, London, W.C. — Yours, 

"Sorbett." 

He spelt his name with two T's because Bertha 
had never disciplined herself to suppress final con- 
sonants. 

Bertha was in her little kitchen. It was near the 
front door. Next to it was her studio or salon, then 
bedroom : along a passage at right angles the rooms 
rented by Clara Goenthner, her friend. 

The letter had been laid on the table, by the side 
of which stood the large gas-stove, like a safe, its gas 
stars, on top, blasting away luridly at pans and 
saucepans with Bertha's breakfast. While busying 
herself with eggs and coffee, she gazed over her arm 

153 



reflectively at the letter. It was a couple of inches too 
far away for her to be able to read it. 

The postman had come ten minutes before. It was 
now four days after the dance, and since she had last 
seen Tarr. She had " felt " he would come on that 
particular morning. The belief in woman's intuition 
is not confined, of course, to men. " Could he have 
heard anything of the Kreisler incident ? " she had 
asked herself. The possibility of this was terrifying. 
But perhaps it would be as well if he had. It might 
at any future time crop up. And what things had 
happened when other older things had come to light 
suddenly ! She would tell him if he had not already 
heard. He should hear it from her. The great 
boulevard sacrifice of the other night had appeared 
folly, long ago. But peculiarly free from any form 
of spite — she did not feel unkindly towards Kreisler. 

So Sorbert was expected to breakfast, on the 
authority of her intuition. Bread was being fried in 
fat. What manner of man would appear, how far 
renseignd — or if not informed, still all their other 
difficulties were there inevitably enough ? Experience, 
however, suggested such breakfast as pleased him. 
Could fried toast and honey play a part in such 
troubles ? Ah, yes. Troubles often reduced them- 
selves to fried bread and honey : they could sow 
troubles, why not help to quell troubles ? But she 
had had a second intuition that he knew. Not know- 
ing how stormy their interview might be she neglected 
no minute precautions — and these were the touching 
ones — any more than the sailor would neglect to stow 
away even the smallest of his sails, I suppose, at the 
sulky approach of a simoom. The simoom, however, 
had left her becalmed and taken the train for Dieppe 
instead of coming in her direction. 



154 



CHAPTEE III 

Bertha went on turning the bread over in the pan, 
taking the butter from its paper and dropping it into 
its dish : rinsing and wiping a knife or two, regulating 
the gas. Frequent truculent exclamations spluttered 
out if anything went wrong. " Verdammtes Streich- 
holz ! " " Donnerwetter ! " She used the oaths of 
Goethe. One eyebrow was raised in humorous re- 
flective irritation. She would flatten the letter out 
and bend down to examine a sentence, stopping her 
cooking for a moment. 

" Salot ! " she exclaimed, after having read the 
letter all through again, putting it down. She turned 
with coquettish contemptuousness to her frying-pan. 
" Salot" was, with her, a favourite epithet. Clara's 
door opened, and Bertha crumpled the letter into her 
pocket. Clara entered sleepy-eyed and affecting ill- 
humour. Her fat body was a softly distributed 
burden, which she carried with the aplomb and in- 
difference of habit. She had a gracefully bumpy 
forehead, a nice whistling mouth, soft, good and dis- 
creet orbs. Her days were passed in the library of the 
Place Saint Sulpice. 

" Ach, lasse ! lass mich doch ! Get on with your 
cooking ! " she exclaimed as Bertha began her 
customary sociable and playful greeting. Bertha 
always was conscious of her noise, of shallowness and 
worldliness, with this shrewd, indifferent, slow, and 
monosyllabic bookworm. She wanted to caper round 
it, inviting it to cumbrous play, like a small lively dog 
around a heavy one. She was much more femme 
as she said, but aware that Clara did not regard this 
as an attainment. Being femme had taken up so 
much of her energy and life that she could not expect 
to be so complete in other ways as Clara. With this 
other woman, who was much less " woman " than she, 
she always felt impelled to ultra -feminine behaviour. 
She was childish to the top of her bent. This was 
insulting to the other : it showed too clearly Bertha's 

155 



way of regarding her as not so much femme as 
herself. Clara felt this and would occasionally show 
impatience at Bertha's skittishness : a gruff man- 
like impatience entering grimly but imperturbably 
into the man-part, but claiming at the same time its 
prerogatives. 

Clara had had no known love affairs. She regarded 
Bertha, sometimes, with much curiosity. This 
" woman's temperament," so complacently displayed, 
soothed and tickled her. 

" Clara, Soler has told me to send a picture to the 
Salon d'Automne." 

" Oh ! " Clara was not impressed by " success." 
She was preparing her own breakfast and jostled 
Bertha, usurping more than half the table. Bertha, 
delighted, retorted with trills of shrill indignation and 
by recapturing the positions lost by her plates. Her 
breakfast ready she carried it into her room, pre- 
tending to be offended with Clara. 

Breakfast over she wrote to Tarr. The letter was 
written quite easily and directly. She was so sure 
in the convention of her passion that there was no 
scratching out or hesitation. " I feel so far away 
from you." There was nothing more to be said ; as 
it had been said often before, it came easily and 
promptly with the pen. All the feeling that could 
find expression was fluent, large and assured, like the 
handwriting, and went at once into these conventional 
forms. 

" Let Englishmen thank their stars — the good stars 
of the Northmen and early seamen — that they have 
such stammering tongues and such a fierce horror of 
grandiloquence. They are still primitive and true in 
their passions, because they are afraid of them, like 
children. The shocks go on underneath ; they trust 
their unconsciousness. The odious facility of the 
South, whether it be their, at bottom, very shrewdly 
regulated anger (Vart de s'engueuler) or their pic- 
ture post card perfection of amorous expressiveness ; 
such things those Island mutterers and mutes have 
escaped. But worst of all is the cult of the < Tempera- 

156 



ment, 7 all the accent on that poor last syllable, whose 
home is that dubious middle Empire, so incorrigibly 
banal. The lacerating and tireless pricking and 
„ pushing of this hapless ' temperament ' is a more 
harrowing spectacle than the use of dogs in Belgium 
or women in England." 

This passage, from an article in the English Review, 
Tarr had shown to Bertha with great pleasure 
Bertha had a good share of impoverished and over- 
worked temperament, but in a very genial fashion. 
It had not, with her, grown crooked and vicious with 
this constant ill-treatment. It was strenuous but 
friendly. It served in any case a mistress surprisingly 
disinterested and gentle. 

On the receipt of Tarr's letter she had felt, to begin 
with, very indignant and depressed at his having had 
the strength to go away without coming to see her. 
So her letter began on that complaint. He had at 
last, this was certain, gone away, with the first 
likelihood of permanence since they had known each 
other. Despite her long preparation for this, and her 
being even deliberately the cause of it, she was 
mortified and at the same time unhappy at the sight 
of her success. 

The Kreisler business had been more for herself than 
anything, for her own private edification. She would 
free Sorbert by an act, in a sort of impalpable way. 
It was not destined as yet for publicity. The fact 
of the women surprising Kreisler and her on the 
boulevard had put everything at once out of perspec- 
tive, damaged her illusion of sacrifice. Compelled 
at once to be practical again, find excuses, repudiate 
immediately what she had done before she had been 
able to enjoy or digest it, was like a man being 
snatched away from table, the last mouthful hardly 
swallowed She was the person surprised before some 
work doing is completed — it still in a rudimentary 
unshowable state. For once Tarr was not only in 
the right, but, to her irritation, he had proofs, splendid 
ocular proofs, a cloud of witnesses. 

To end nobly, on her own initiative, had been her 
157 



idea ; to make a last sacrifice to Sorbert in leaving 
him irrevocably, as she had sacrificed her feelings all 
along in allowing their engagement to drag sus- 
piciously on, in making her position slightly uncom- 
fortable with her friends (and these social things 
meant so much to her in addition). And now, 
instead, everything had been turned into questionable 
meanness and ridicule ; when she had intended to 
behave with the maximum of swagger, she suddenly 
found herself relegated to a skulking and unfortunate 
plane. 

Considerations about Fate beset her. Everything 
was hopelessly unreliable. The best thing to do was to 
do nothing. She was not her usual energetic too 
spiritually bustling self. She wrote her letter quite 
easily and as usual, but she did not (very unusually) 
believe in its efficacy. She even wrote it a trifle more 
easily than usual for that reason. 

It was only a momentary rebellion against the ease 
with which this protest was done. Perhaps had it not 
been for the fascination of habit, then some more 
adequate words would have been written. His 
letter had come. Empty and futile she had done her 
task, answered as she must do ; " As we all must 
do ! " she would have thought, with an exclama- 
tion mark after it. She sealed up her letter and 
addressed it. 

In the drawer where she was putting Sorbert' s 
latest letter away were some old ones. A letter of 
the year before she took out and read. With its two 
sentences it was more cruel and had more meaning 
than the one she had just received : " Put off that 
little Darmstadt woman. Let's be alone." 

It was a note she had received on the eve of an 
expedition to a village near Paris. She had promised 
to take a girl down with them, to show her the place, 
its hotel and other possibilities — she had stayed there 
once or twice herself. The Darmstadt girl had not 
been taken. Sorbert and she had spent the night at 
an inn on the outskirts of the forest. They had come 
back in the train next dav without speaking, having 

158 



quarrelled somehow or other in the inn. Chagrin and 
regret for him struck her a series of sharp blows. She 
started crying again suddenly, quickly, and vehemently 
as though surprised by some thought. 

The whole morning her work worried her, dusting 
and arranging. She experienced a revolt against her 
ceaseless orderliness, a very grave thing in such an 
exemplary prisoner. At four o'clock in the afternoon, 
as often happened, she was still dawdling about in 
her dressing-gown and had not yet had lunch. 

The femwx de menage came at about eight in the 
morning, doing Clara's rooms first. Bertha was in 
the habit of discussing politics with Madame Vannier. 
Sorbert too was discussed. 

" Mademoiselle est triste ? " this good woman said, 
noticing her dejection. " C'est encore Monsieur 
Sorbert qui vous a fait du chagrin ? " 

" Oui madame, c'est un Salot ! " Bertha replied, 
half crying. 

" Oh, il ne faut pas dire §a, mademoiselle. Com- 
ment, il est un Salot ? " Madame Vannier worked 
silently with soft quiet thud of felt slippers. She 
appeared to regard work as not without dignity. 
Bertha was playing at life. She admired and liked 
her as an emblem of Fortune ; she respected herself 
as an emblem of Misfortune. Madame Vannier was 
given the letter to post at two. 



CHAPTEE IV 

Bertha's friends looked for her elsewhere, nowadays, 
than at her rooms. Tarr was always likely to be 
found there in impolite possession. She made them 
come as often as she could ; her coquetry as regards 
her carefully arranged rooms needed satisfaction. She 
suffered in the midst of her lonely tastefulness. But 
Tarr had certainly made these rooms a rather deserted 
place. Since the dance none of her women friends had 
come. She had spent an hour or two with them at 
the restaurant. 

159 



At the dance she had kept rather apart. Dazed, 
after a shock, and needing self-collection, was the 
line sketched. Her account of things could not, of 
course, be blurted out anyhow. It had to grow out 
of circumstances. It, of course, must be given. 
She had not yet given it. But haste must be avoided. 
For its particular type, as long a time as possible 
must be allowed to elapse before she spoke of what 
had happened. It must almost seem as though she 
were going to say nothing ; sudden, perfect, and 
very impressive silence on her part. To accustom 
their minds to her silence would make speech all 
the more imposing, when it came. At a caf6 after 
the dance her account of the thing flowered grudgingly, 
drawn forth by the ambient heat of the discussion. 

They were as yet at the stage of exclamations, no 
malveillant theory yet having been definitely formed 
about Kreisler. 

" He came there on purpose to create a disturbance. 
Whatever for, I wonder ! " 

" I expect it was the case of Fraulein Fogs over 
again." (Kreisler had, on a former occasion, paid 
his court to a lady of this name, with resounding 
unsuccess.) 

" If I'd have known what was going on, I'd have 
dealt with him ! " said one of the men. 

" Didn't you say he told a pack of lies, Ben6e ? " 

Fraulein Lipmann had been sitting, her eyes fixed 
on a tram drawn up near by, watching the people 
evacuating the central platform, and others re- 
stocking it. The discussion and exclamations of her 
friends did not, it would appear, interest her. It 
would have been, no doubt, scandalously unnatural 
if Kreisler had not been execrated. But anything 
they could say was negligible and inadequate to cope 
with the " Gemeine alte Sau." The tameness of 
their reflections on and indignation against Kreisler 
when compared with the terrific corroding of this 
epithet (known only to her) made her sulky and 
impatient. 

Applied to in this way directly about the lies, she 
160 



turned to the others and said, as it were interposing 
herself regally at last in their discussion : 

11 Ecoutez — listen," she began, leaning towards the 
greater number of them, seeming to say, " It's really 
simple enough, as simple as it is disagreeable : I am 
going to settle the question for you. Let us then 
discuss it no more." It would seem a great effort 
to do this, too, her lips a little white with fatigue, 
her eyes heavy with disgust at it all : fighting these 
things, she was coming to their assistance. 

" Listen : we none of us know anything about 
that man " ; this was an unfortunate beginning for 
Bertha, as thoughts, if not eyes, would spring in her 
direction no doubt, and Fraulein Lipmann even 
paused as though about to qualify this : " we none 
of us, I think, want to know anything about him. 
Therefore why this idiot — the last sort of beer- 
drinking brute — treated us to his bestial and — and — 
wretched foolery " 

Fraulein Lipmann shrugged her shoulders with 
blank, contemptuous indifference. " I assure you it 
doesn't interest me the least little bit in the world 
to know ivhy such brutes behave like that at certain 
times. I don't see any mystery. It seems odd to 
you that Hekr Kkeisler should be an offensive 
brute ? " She eyed them a moment. " To me not ! " 

11 We do him too much honour by discussing him, 
that's certain," said one of them. This was in the 
spirit of Fraulein Lipmann's words, but was not 
/accepted by her just then as she had something further 
to say. 

" When one is attacked, one does not spend one's 
time in considering why one is attacked, but in 
defending oneself. I am just fresh from the souillures 
de ce brute. If you knew the words he had addressed 
to me ! " 

Ekhart was getting very red, his eyes were shining, 
and he was moving rhythmically in his chair something 
like a steadily rising sea. 

" Where does he live, Fraulein Lipmann ! " he 
asked. 

161 L 



"Nein, Ekhart. One could not allow anybody 
to embroil themselves with that useless brute." The 
11 Nein, Ekhart " had been drawled fondly at once, 
as though that contingency had been weighed, and 
could be brushed aside lightly in advance. It implied 
as well an "of course " for his red and dutiful face. 
" I myself, if I meet him anywhere, shall deal with 
him better than you could. This is one of the occa- 
sions for a woman " 

So Bertha's story had come uncomfortably and 
difficultly to flower. She wished she had not waited 
so long. But it was impossible now, the matter put 
in the light that Fraulein Lipmann's intervention had 
caused, to delay any longer. She was, there was no 
doubt about it, vaguely responsible for Kreisler. It 
was obviously her duty to explain him. And now 
Fraulein Lipmann had just put an embargo on 
explanations. There were to be no more explanations. 
In Kreisleriana her apport was very important : 
much more definite than the indignation or hypothesis 
of any of the rest. She had been nearer to him, 
anyway. She had waited too long, until the sea 
had risen too high, or rather in a direction extremely 
unfavourable for launching her contribution. It must 
be in some way, too, a defence of Kreisler. This 
would be a very delicate matter to handle. 

Yet could she sit on there, say nothing, and let 
the others in the course of time drop the subject 1 
They had not turned to her in any way for further 
information or as to one peculiarly susceptible of 
furnishing interesting data. Maintaining this silence 
was a solution. But it would be even bolder than her 
first plan. This would be a still more vigorous, 
more insolent development of her plan of confessing — 
in Tier way. But it rather daunted her. They might 
easily mistake, if they pleased, her silence for the 
silence of acknowledged, very eccentric, guilt. The 
subject was drawing perilously near the point where 
it would be dropped. Fraulein Lipmann was sum- 
ming up, and doing the final offices of the law over 
the condemned and already unspeakable Kreisler. 

162 



No time was to be lost. The breaking in now involved 
inevitable conflict of a sort with Fraulein Lipmann. 
She was going to " say a word for Kreisler " after 
Fraulein Lipmann's words. (How much better it would 
have been before !) 

So at this point, looking up from the table, Bertha 
(listened to with uncomfortable unanimity and 
promptness) began. She was smiling with an affec- 
tedly hesitating, timid face, smiling in a flat strained 
way, the neighbourhood of her eyes suffused slightly 
with blood, her lips purring the words a little : 

" Eenee, I feel that I ought to say something — " 
Her smile was that made with a screwing up of the 
eyes and slow flowering of the lips, noticed on some 
people's faces when some snobbery they cannot help 
has to be allowed egress from their mouth. 

Ben6e Lipmann turned towards her composedly. 
This interruption would require argument ; con- 
sciousness of the peculiar nature of Bertha's qualifi- 
cations was not displayed. 

11 1 had not meant to say anything — about what 
happened to me, that is. I, as a matter of fact, 
have something particularly to complain of. But 
I had nothing to say about it. Only, since you are 
all discussing it, I thought you might not quite 
understand if I didn't — I don't think, Een6e, that 
Herr Kreisler was quite in his right mind this evening. 
He doesn't strike me as mediant. I don't think he 
was really in any way accountable for his actions. 
I don't, of course, know any more about him than 
you do. This evening was the first time I've ever 
exchanged more than a dozen words with him in 
my life." 

This was said in the sing-song of quick parentheses, 
eyebrows lifted, and with little gestures of the hand. 

11 He caught hold of me — like this." She made a 
quick snatching gesture at Fraulein Lipmann, who did 
not like this attempt at intimidation or velvety 
defiance. " He was kissing me when you came up," 
turning to one or two of the others. This was said 
with dramatic suddenness and " determination," as 

163 



it were : the " kissing " said with a sort of deliberate 
sententious brutality, and luscious disparting of the 
lips. 

"We couldn't make out whatever was happen- 
ing " one of them began. 

" When you came up I felt quite dazed. I didn't 
feel that it was a man kissing me. He was mad. I'm 
sure he was. It was like being mauled by a brute." 
She shuddered, with rather rolling eyes. " He was 
a brute to-night — not a man at all. He didn't know 
what he was doing." 

They were all silent, answerless at this unexpected 
view of the case. It only differed from theirs in 
supposing that he was not always a brute. She had 
spoken quickly and drew up short. Their silence 
became conscious and septic. They appeared as 
though they had not expected her to stop speaking, 
and were like people surprised naked, with no time 
to cover themselves. 

" I think he's in great difficulties — money or some- 
thing. But all I know for certain is that he was really 
in need of somebody " 

" But what makes you think, Bertha " one of 

the girls said, hesitating. 

" I let him in at Benee's. He looked strange to 
me : didn't you notice ? I noticed him first 
there." 

Anastasya Vasek was still with them. She had 
not joined in the talk about Kreisler. She listened 
to it with attention, like a person newly arrived in 
some community, participating for the first time at 
one of their discussions on a local and stock subject. 
Kreisler would, from her expression, have seemed to 

be some topic peculiar to this gathering of people 

they engaged in a characteristic occupation. Bertha 
she watched as one would watch a very eloquent chief 
airing his views at a clan-meeting. 

11 1 felt he was really in need of some hand to help 
him. He seemed just like a child. He was ill, too. 
He can't have eaten anything for some time. I am 
sure he hasn't. He was walking slower and slower — 

164 



that's how it was we were so far behind. It was my 
fault, too — what happened. At least " 

The hungry touch was an invention of the moment. 
" You make him quite a romantic character. I'm 
afraid he has been working on your feelings, my 
dear girl. I didn't see any signs of an empty stomach 
myself," said Fraulein van Bencke. 

" He refreshed himself extensively at the dance, 
in any case. You can put your mind at rest as to 
his present emptiness," Eenee Lipmann said. 

Things languished. The Lipmann had taken her 
stand on boredom. She was committed to the theory 
of the unworthiness of this discussion. The others 
not feeling quite safe, Bertha's speeches raised no more 
comment. It was all as though she had been putting 
in her little bit of abuse of the common enemy. 
Bertha might have interrupted with a " Yes. He 
outraged me too ! " — and this have been met with 
a dreary, acquiescing silence ! 

She was exculpating herself, then (heavily), at his 
expense. The air of ungenerosity this had was 
displeasing to her. 

The certain lowering of the vitality of the party 
when she came on the scene with her story offended 
her. There should have been noise. It was not 
quite the lifelessness of scepticism. But there was 
an uncomfortable family likeness to the manner of 
people listening to discourses they do not believe. 
She persevered. She met with the same objectionable 
flaccid and indifferent opposition. Her intervention 
had killed the topic, and they seemed waiting till 
she had ended her war-dance on its corpse. 

The red-headed member of the party had met 
Tarr by chance. Hearing he had not seen Bertha 
since the night of the ball, she had said with roguish 
pleasantness : " He'd better look after her better ; 
why hadn't he come to the ball ? " Tarr did not 
understand. 

" Bertha had had an adventure. All of them, for 
that matter, had had an adventure, but especially 
Bertha. Oh, Bertha would tell him all about it." 

165 



But, on Tarr insisting, Bertha's story, in substance, 
had been told. 

So Avith Bertha, the fact was still there. Betro- 
spectively, her friends insisted upon passing by the 
two remarkably unanimous -looking forms on the 
boulevard in stony silence. She shouted to them and 
kissed Kreisler loudly. But they refused to take 
any notice. She sulked. They had been guilty of 
catching her. She kept to herself day after day. 
She would make a change in her life. She might go 
to Germany ; she might go to another quartier. To 
go on with her life just as though nothing had hap- 
pened, that was out of the question. Demonstration 
of some sort must follow, and change compatible with 
grief. 

Her burly little clock struck four. Hurrying on 
reform -clothes, she went out to buy lunch. The 
dairy lay nearly next door to Lejeune's restaurant. 
Crossing the road towards it, she caught sight of 
Kreisler's steadily marching figure approaching. 
First she side-stepped and half turned. But the 
shop would be reached before they met, so she went 
on, merely quickening her pace. Her eye, covertly 
fixed on him, calculating distances and speeds, saw 
him hesitate — evidently having just caught sight of 
her — and then turn down a side street nearly beside 
the dairy she was making for. Unwise pique beset 
her at this. 



CHAPTEE V 

Kreisler, on his side, had been only a few paces 
from his door when he caught sight of Bertha. As 
his changed route would necessitate a good deal 
of tiresome circling to bring him back practically to 
the spot he had started from, he right-about-faced 
in a minute or two, the danger past, as he thought. 
The result was that, as she left the shop, there was 
Kreisler approaching again, almost in the same place 
as before. 

166 



She was greeted affably, as though to say " Caught ! 
both of us ! " He was under the impression, however, 
that she had lain in wait for him. He was so accus- 
tomed to think of her in that character ! If she had 
been in full flight he would have imagined that she 
was only decoying him. She was a woman who 
could not help adhering. 

11 How do you do ? I've just been buying my 
lunch." 

" So late ? " 

" I thought you'd left Paris ! " She had no infor- 
mation of this sort, but was inclined to rebuke him 
for not leaving Paris. 

" I ? Who told you that, I should like to know. 
I shall never leave Paris ; at least " 

There was heavy enigmatic meaning in this, said 
lightly. It did not escape her, sensible to such 
nuances. 

" How are our fair friends ? " he asked. 

" Our ? Oh, Fraulein Lipmann and — Oh, I 
haven't seen them since the other night." 

" Indeed ! Not since the other night ! " 

She made her silence swarm with significant mean- 
ings, like a glassy shoal with innumerable fish : her 
eyes even, stared and darted about, glassily. 

It was very difficult, now she had stopped, to get 
away. The part she had more or less played with 
her friends, of his champion, had imposed itself on 
her. She could not leave her prot6g6 without some- 
thing further said. She was flattered, too, at his 
showing no signs now of desire to escape. 

His more plainly brutal instincts woke readily in 
these vague days. Various appetites had been 
asserting themselves. So the fact that she was a 
pretty girl did its work on a rather recalcitrant 
subject. He felt so modest now, ideals things of the 
past. Surely for a quiet ordinary existence pleasant 
little distinctions were suitable ? 

Without any anxiety about it, he began to talk to 
Bertha with the idea of a subsequent meeting. He 
had wished to avoid her because she had embodied 

167 



for him the evening of the dance, and appeared to 
him in its disquieting colours. What he sought 
unconsciously now was a certain quietude, enlivened 
by healthy appetites. He had disconnected her with 
his great Night. 

" I was cracked the other night. I'm not often in 
that state," he said. Bertha's innuendoes had to be 
recognized. 

" I'm glad of that," she answered. 

As to Bertha, to have been kissed and those things, 
under however eccentric circumstances, gave a man 
certain rights on your interest. 

" I'm afraid I was rather rude to Fraulein Lipmann 
before leaving. Did she tell you about it ? " 

" I think you were rude to everybody ! " 

-Ah, well " 

I must be going. My lunch- 



" Oh, I'm so sorry ! Have I kept you from your 
lunch ? I wonder if you would procure me the 
extreme pleasure of seeing you again ? " 

Bertha looked at him in doubtful astonishment, 
taking in this sensational request. 

See Kreisler again ! The result as regards the 
Lipmann circle ! But this pleaded for Kreisler. It 
would be carrying out her story. It would be 
insisting on it, and destroying that subtle advantage, 
now possessed by her friends, in presenting them with 
somewhat the same uncompromising spectacle again. 
In deliberately exposing herself to criticism she would 
be effacing, in some sense, the extreme involuntariness 
of the boulevard incident. He asked her simply if 
he might see her again. The least pretentious 
request. Would the refusal to do this simple thing 
be a concession to Lipmann and the rest ? Did she 
want to at all ? But it was in a jump of deliberate 
defiance or " carelessness " that she concluded : 

" Yes, of course, if you wish it." 

" You never go to cafes ? Perhaps some day " 

" Good ! Very well ! " she answered very quickly, 
in her trenchant tone, imparting all sorts of particular 
unnecessary meanings to this simple acceptance. She 

168 



had answered as men accept a bet or the Bretons 
clinch a bargain in the fist. 

Kreisler was still leisurely. He appeared to regard 
her vehemence with amusement. 

11 1 should like then to go with you to the Cafe de 
l'Observatoire to-morrow evening. I hope I shall be 
able to efface the rather unusual impression I must 
have made on you the other night!" (The tone of 
this remark did not ignore or condemn, however, the 
kisses.) " When can I meet you ? " 

" Will you come and fetch me at my house ? " 

But shivers went down her back as she said it. 

She was now thoroughly committed to this new 
step. She was delighted, or rather excited, at each 
new further phase of it. Its horrors were scores off 
her friends. These details of meeting ! — these had 
not been reckoned on. Of course they would have 
to meet. Kreisler seemed like a physician conducting 
a little unpleasant operation in a genial, ironical, 
unhurrying way. 

11 Well, it's understood. We shall see each other 
to-morrow," he said. And with a smile of half 
raillery at her rather upset expression, he left her. 
So much fuss about a little thing, such obstinacy in 
doing it ! What was the terrible thing ? Meeting 
him ! His smiling was only natural. She showed 
without disguise in her face the hazardous quality, as 
she considered it, of this consent. She would wish 
him to feel the largeness of the motive that prompted 
her, and for him to participate too in the certain 
horror of meeting himself ! 



CHAPTEE VI 

Back in her rooms, she examined, over her lunch, 
with stupefaction, the things she had been doing — 
conversations, appointments, complementary sensa- 
tions, and all the rest, as she might have sat down 
before some distinctly expensive, troubling purchase 

169 



that she had not dreamt of making an hour before. 
" What a strange proceeding ! " — as it might have 
been — " what sudden disease in my taste made me 
buy that ! " 

Had she been enveloped, in a way, by that idle 
Teutonically smiling manner of his ? But at the 
bottom of her (for her) dramatic consent was the 
instantaneous image of Fraulein Lipmann and Com- 
pany's disapprobation. The carrying out and so 
substantiating her story, that notion turned the 
scale. Kreisler's easy manner (he was unmistakably 
" a gentleman ! "j contrasted with her friend's 
indignant palaver gave him the advantage. He 
cannot, cannot have behaved so outrageously as they 
pretended ! 

These activities as well distracted her from brooding 
over Sorbert's going. 

Of Kreisler she thought very little. Her women 
friends held the centre of the stage. 

In her thoughts they stared at her supersession : 
Tarr to Kreisler. From bad to worse, for her friends. 
There was a strange continuity in her troubled 
friendship with these women. Always (only more so) 
at the same point, stretching the cord. 

So this was the key to her programme ; a person 
has made some slip in grammar, say. He makes it 
again deliberately, so that his first involuntary speech 
may appear deliberate. 

She began her customary pottering about in her 
rooms. Fraulein Elsa Kinderbach, one of the Dresden 
sisters already spoken of, interrupted her. At the 
knock she thought of Tarr and Kreisler simultaneously, 
and welded in one. 

" Isn't it hot ? It's simply broiling outside. I left 
the studio quite early." Fraulein Kinderbach sat 
down, giving her hat a toss and squinting up at it. 

The most evident thing about these sisters was 
dirt, anaemia, and a sort of soiled, insignificant hand- 
someness. They explained themselves, roughly, by 
describing in a cold-blooded lazy way their life at 
home. 

170 



A stepmother, prodigiously smart, well-to-do, 
neglecting them ; sent first to one place then another 
(now Paris) to be out of the way. Yet the step- 
mother supplies them superfluously from her super- 
fluity. — They talked about themselves with a con- 
sciously dramatic matter-of-factness, as twin parcels, 
usually on the way from one place to another, 
expensively posted here and there, without real 
destination. They enjoyed nothing at all ; painted 
well (according to Juan Soler) ; had a sort of wild 
uncontrollable attachment for the Lipmann. 

" Oh ! Bertha, I didn't know your dear ' Sorbert ' 
was going to England." "Dein Sorbet" was the 
bantering formula for Tarr. Bertha was perpetually 
talking about him, to them, to the charwoman, to 
the greengrocer opposite, to everybody she met. 
Tarr did not quite bask in this notoriety. 

" Didn't you ? Oh, yes ; he's gone." 

" You've not quarrelled — with your Sorbert ? " 

" What's that to do with you, my dear f " Bertha 
gave a brief, indecent laugh she sometimes had. " By 
the way, I've just seen Herr Kreisler. We've 
arranged to go out somewhere to-morrow." 

" Go out — Kreisler ! Liebes Kind ! — What on earth 
possessed you — ! — Herr — Kreisler ! " 

11 What's the matter with Herr Kreisler ? You 
were -all friendly enough with him a week ago." 

Elsa looked at her with the cold-blooded scrutiny 
of the precocious urchin. 

" But he's a vicious brute. Besides, there are 
other reasons for avoiding Herr Kreisler. You know 
the reason of his behaviour the other night ? It was 
it appears, because Anastasya Vasek snubbed him. 
He was nearly the same when the Fogs wouldn't take 
an interest in him. He can't leave women alone. 
He follows them about and annoys them, and then 
becomes — well, as you saw him the other night — 
when he's shaken off. He is impossible. He is not 
a person who can be accepted by anybody." 

" Where did you hear all that ? I don't think that 

Fraulein Vasek's story is true. I am certain " 

171 



" Well, he once was like that with me, He began 
hanging round, and — You know the story of his 
engagement ? " 

" What engagement ? " 

" He was engaged to a girl and she married his 
father instead of marrying him." 

Bertha struggled a moment, a little baffled. 

" Well, what is there in that ? I've known several 
cases " 



Yes. That by itself- 



Elsa Kinderbach was quite undisturbed. Her 
information had been coldly given. She had argued 
sweepingly, as though talking to a child, and following 
some reasonable resolve formed during her earlier 
silent scrutiny. — In a few moments Bertha returned 
to the charge. 

" Did Fraulein Vasek give that particular explana- 
tion of Herr Kreisler's behaviour ? " 

"No. We put two and two together. She did 
say something — yes, she did as a matter of fact say 
that she thought she had been the cause of Kreisler's 
behaviour." 

" How funny ! I can't stand that girl ; she's so 
unnatural, she's such a poseuse. Don't you think, 
Elsa ? — What a funny thing to say ? You can 
depend on it that that, anyhow, is not the explana- 
tion." 

" Sorbert has a rival perhaps ? " 

This remark was met in staring silence. It was a 
mixing of elements, an unnecessary bringing in of 
something as unapropos, as unmanageable; that 
deserved only no words at all. She did not wish to 
concede the light tone required. 

Elsa had admitted that Fraulein Vasek was respon- 
sible for the statement, " I was the cause of Kreisler's 
behaviour," etc. That was one of those things (there 
being no evidence to confirm or even suggest it) 
which at once puts a woman on a peculiar pinnacle 
of bad taste, incomprehensibleness, and horridness. 
Bertha's personal estimation of Kreisler received a 
complex fillip. This ridiculous version — coming after 

172 



her version— was a rival version, believed in by her 
friends. 

- Bertha took some minutes to digest Elsa's news. 
She flushed. The more she thought of this rivai 
version of Fraulein Vasek's, the more reprehensible it 
appeared. It was a startlingly novel and uncom- 
promising version, giving proof of a perfect immodesty. 
It charged hers full tilt. 

This version of hers had been the great asset of 
existence for three days. Some one had coolly set 
up shop next door, to sell an article in which she, and 
she alone, had specialized. Here was an unexpected, 
gratuitous, new inventor of versions coming along. 
And what a version to begin with ! 

Bertha's version had been a vital matter, Fraulein 
Vasek's evidently was a matter of vanity. The 
contempt of the workman, sweating for a living, for 
the amateur, possessed her. 

But there was a graver aspect to the version of 
this poaching Venus. In discrediting Bertha's sug- 
gested account of how things happened, it attacked 
indirectly her action, proceeding, ostensibly, from 
these notions. 

Her meeting Kreisler at present depended for its 
reasonableness and existence even on the " hunger " 
theory ; or, if that should fail, something equally 
touching and primitive. Were she forced, as Elsa 
readily did, to accept the snub-by -Anastasya theory, 
with its tale of ridiculous reprisals, further dealings with 
Kreisler would show in a bare and ugly light. Her past 
conduct also would have its primitive slur renewed. 

Her defiance to Elsa had been delivered with great 
satisfaction. " I am meeting Herr Kreisler to- 
morrow ! " The shine had soon been taken off that. 
All Bertha's past management [of the boulevard 
scene had presupposed that she was working in an 
element destined to obscurity : malleable, therefore, 
to any extent. Anastasya had risen up calm, contra- 
dictory, a formidable and perplexing enemy, with her 
cursed version. The weak point in it was the rank 
immodesty of the form itftook. 

173 



Her obstinacy awoke. This new turn coming from 
the other camp solidified two or three degrees more, 
in a twinkling, her partisanship of Kreisler. She had 
a direct interest now in their meeting. She was 
curious to hear what he had to say as to his alleged 
attempt in Fraulein Vasek's direction. 

" Well, I'm going to Ben^e's now, to fetch her for 
dinner. Are you coming ? " Elsa said, getting up. 

" No. I'm going to dine here to-night," and 
Bertha accompanied her to the door. 



CHAPTEE VII 

People appear with a startling suddenness sometimes 
out of the fog of Time and Space. Bertha did not 
visualize Kreisler very readily. She was surprised 
when she saw him below her windows the next day. 
He stared up at the house with an eager speculation. 
He considered the house and studio opposite. Behind 
the curtains Bertha stood with emotions of an 
ambushed soldier. She felt on her face the blankness 
of the wall of the house, its silence and unresponsive- 
ness. He appeared almost to be looking at her face, 
magnified and exposed. — Then it appeared to her 
that it was he, the enemy getting in. She wished to 
stop him there, before he came any further. 

In the processes of his uncertainty he was so 
innocuous and distant, for the moment. His first 
visit. There he was : so far, a stranger. Why 
should these little obstacles of strangeness — which 
gate to enter, which bell to ring — be taken away from 
this particular individual f He should remain 
" stranger " for her, where he came from. But he 
had burrowed his way through, was at the bell already, 
and would soon be at herself. She found here, in her 
room, was very different from she found outside, in 
restaurant or street. The clothing of this decor was 
a nakedness. 

She struggled for a moment up from the obstinate 
174 



dream, made of artificial but tenacious sentiments, 
shaped by contretemps of all sorts that had been 
accumulating like a snowball ever since her last 
interview with Tarr. Still somewhat wrapt in this 
interview she rolled in its nightmarish, continually 
metamorphosed, substance through space. Where 
would it land her, this electric, directionless, vital 
affair ? This invasion of Indifference and Difference 
had floated her, successfully, away in some direction. 

The bell rang again. She could see him, almost, 
through the wall, standing phlegmatic and erect. 
They had not spoken yet. But they had been some 
minutes " in touch." 

Perhaps he was mad ! Elsa, cold, matter-of-fact, 
but with warnings for her, came into her mind. 
However much she resisted the facts, there was very 
little reason for this meeting. It was a now unneces- 
sary, exploded, and objectless impulse, sapped by 
Anastasya. She was going through with something 
from laziness and obstinacy mixed, that no longer 
meant anything. 

Already dressed, she walked to the door as the bell 
rang a third time. Kreisler was serious and a little 
haggard ; different from the day before. He had 
expected to be asked in. Instead, hardly saying 
anything, she came out on the narrow landing and 
closed the door behind her. Surprised, he felt for 
the first stair. It was eight in the evening, very 
dark on the staircase, and he stumbled several times. 
Bertha felt she could not say a single word to him. 
It was just as though some lawyer's clerk had come 
to fetch her for a tragic disagreeable interview, and 
she, having been sitting fully dressed for unnecessary 
hours in advance, were now urging him silently and 
violently before her, following. 

That afternoon she had received a second letter 
from Sorbert. 

" My dear Bertha. — Excuse me for the blague I 
wrote the other day. There is nothing to be gained 
in conforming to our old convention of vagueness. I 

175 



think we had better say, finally, that we will try and 
get used to not seeing each other, and give up our 
idea of marriage. Do you agree with me ? As you 
will see, I am still here, in Paris. I am going to 
England this afternoon. 

" Tou jours affectueusement, 

" Votre Sorbert." 

On the receipt of this letter — as on the former 
occasion a little — she first of all behaved as she would 
have done had Sorbert been there. She acted silent 
resignation and going about her work as usual for 
the benefit of the letter, as though it had been a 
living person. The reply to this, written an hour or 
so before Kreisler arrived, had been an exaggerated 
acquiescence. " Of course, Sorbert : far better that 
we should part ! " But soon this letter began to 
worry her and threaten her mannerisms. She was 
just going to take up a book and read, when, as 
though something had called her attention, she put 
it down, got up, her head turned over her shoulder, 
and then suddenly flung herself on the sofa as though 
it had been rocks and she plunging on them from a 
high cliff. She sobbed until she had tired herself out. 



So Kreisler and she walked up the street as though 
compelled by some very strange circumstances, only, 
to be in each other's company. 

He appeared depressed, and to have come also 
under the spell of some sort of meaningless duty. His 
punctuality suggested, too, fatigued and senseless 
waiting, careful timing. His temporary destination 
reached, he delivered himself up indifferently into 
her hands. He said something about its being hot. 
They said hardly anything, but walked on away from 
her house. They showed no pudeur about this peculiar 
state of mind and their manners. 

Before they got to the Cafe de FObservatoire 
Kreisler was attempting to make up for his lapse into 
strangeness, discovering, however, in a little, that he 
had not been alone. 

176 



Bertha looked at the clock inside as they took up 
their place on the quieter terrasse. When she 
asked herself how long she would stop she was 
astonished. 

" Who is that, then ? " Kreisler asked, after some 
moments of gradually changing silence, when Anas- 
tasya began to be mentioned by Bertha. He showed 
no interest. 

This meeting had been the only event of the day 
for him. He had looked forward to it a little at first. 
But as it approached he got fidgety, began counting 
the time, and from being a blessed something, it 
became a burden. The responsibility of this meeting 
even seemed too much for him. He began to ask 
himself what useless errand he was on now ? The 
effort of this simple affair worked lamentably on his 
nerves. He would not have gone, only the appoint- 
ment being made and fixed in his mind, and he having 
felt it in the distance all day, he knew it would irk 
him more if he did not go. He was compelled, in 
short, to go, to have done with it. The worrying 
obsession of not having done it intimidated him. In 
the empty evening he would have been at the mercy 
of this thing-not-done, like an itch. 

Bertha, for her part, recovered. Kreisler's com- 
plete abstraction and indifference were soothing. He 
seemed to know as little why he was there as she, or 
less, and be only waiting for her to disappear again. 
No , slight was implied. Her vanity stirred a little. 
She perhaps came through this to bring Fraulein 
Vasek on the boards as she had originally intended. 
As to there being anything compromising in this 
meeting, that might be disposed of. He did not look 
like suggesting another. — His manner on the day 
before would not have warranted complete calm. 
And Elsa's description of his conduct with women 
had stuck in her mind. As the hour of meeting 
approached it helped her uneasiness. But now she 
felt refreshingly relieved. This was the man who 
had caused her fresh misgivings ! When a dog or 
cow has passed a trembling child without any signs 

177 M 



of mischief, the child sometimes is inclined to step 
after it and put forth a caressing hand. 

By his manner and its reflection on her feelings he 
had created a situation not unlike that of the dance 
night. There they sat, she pressing a little, he 
civilly apathetic. It seemed for all the world as 
though Bertha had run after him somewhere and 
forced a meeting on him, to which he had grudgingly 
come. She was back in what would always be for 
him her characteristic role. And so now — and again 
later continually — she appeared to be following him 
up, to the discomfort of both, for some unguessable 
reason. 

" No, I don't know who you mean," he said, 
replying to descriptions of Anastasya. " A tall girl 
you say ? No, I can't bring to mind " 

He liked fingering over listlessly the thought of 
Anastasya, but as a stranger. This subject gave 
him a little more interest in Bertha, just as, for her, it 
had a similar effect in his favour. She was imme- 
diately convinced that Fraulein Vasek had been 
guilty of the most offensive, self-complacent mistake. 

Kreisler had not energy enough left to continue his 
pursuit of his bespangled dream. 

Bertha now had achieved a simplification of the 
whole matter as follows : 

Anastasya, a beautiful and swankily original girl, 
had arrived, bespangled and beposed, on the scene of 
her (Bertha's) simple little life. She had discovered 
her kissing and being kissed by a ridiculous individual 
in the middle of the street. Bertha had disengaged • 
herself rapidly, and explained that she had been 
doing that because he had awoken her pity by his 
miserable and half-starved appearance ; that, even 
then, he had assaulted her, and she had been found 
in that delicate situation entirely independent of her 
own will. Anastasya' s lip had curled, and she had 
received these explanations in silence. Then, at their 
nervous repetition, she had said negligently : " You 
were no doubt being hugged by Herr Kreisler in the 
middle of the pavement, the motives the ordinary 

178 



ones. You might have waited till — But that*s 
your own business. On the other hand, the reason 
of his eccentric appearance this evening was this. He 
had the incredible impudence to wish to make up to 
me. I sent him about his business, and he ' mani- 
fested ' in the way you know." 

Eeducing all the confused material of this affair 
to such essential situation, Bertha saw clearly the 
essence of her action. 

Definite withdrawal from the circle of her friends 
was now essential. It was accomplished with as 
much style as possible. Kreisler provided the style. 

Her instinct now was to wallow still more in the 
unbecoming situation in which she had been found, 
with defiance. She wanted to be seen with Kreisler. 
The meanness, strangeness, and certain decheance or 
come-down, in consorting with this sorry bird, must 
be heightened into poetry and thick and luscious 
fiction. They had driven her to this. They were 
driving her ! Very well. She was lasse ! She 
would satisfy them. She would satisfy Sorbert. It 
was what he wanted, was it not ? 

Kreisler, of course, was the central, irreducible 
element in this mental pie. He was the egg-cup that 
kept up the crust. She tried to interest herself in 
Kreisler and satisfy Tarr, her friends, the whole world, 
more thoroughly. 



CHAPTEE VIII 

Destiny has more power over the superstitious. 
They attract constantly bright fortunes and disasters 
within their circle. Destiny had laid its trap in the 
unconscious Kreisler. It fixed it with powerful 
violent springs. Eight days later (dating from 
the Observatoire meeting), it snapped down on 
Bertha. 

Kreisler's windows had been incandescent with 
steady saffron rays, coming over the roofs of the 

179 



quarter. His little shell of a room had breasted them 
with pretence of antique adventure. The old bound- 
less yellow lights streamed from their abstract 
El Dorado. They were a Gulf Stream for our little 
patch of a world, making a people as quiet as the 
English. Men once more were invited to be the 
motes in the sunbeam, to play in the sleepy surf on the 
edge of remoteness. 

Now, from within, his windows looked as suddenly 
harsh and familiar. Unreasonable limitation gave 
its specific colour to thin glass. 

The clock was striking eight. Like eight metallic 
glittering waves dashing discordantly together in a 
cavern, its strokes rushed up and down in Bertha's 
head. She was leaning on the mantelshelf, head 
sunk forward, with the action of a person about to be 
sick. She had struggled up from the bed a moment 
before — the last vigour at her disposal being spent in 
getting away from the bed at all costs. 

" Oh schwein ! schwein ! Ich hass es — ich hass 
dich ! Schwein ! Schensal ! schensslicher Mensch ! " 

All the hatred and repulsion of her being, in a raw, 
indecent heat, seemed turned into this tearful sonority, 
gushing up like blood. An exasperated falling, 
deepening singsong in the " schensslicher Mensch ! " 
something of the disgusting sound of the brutal 
relishing and gobbling of food. Hatred expresses 
itself like the satisfaction of an appetite. The outrage 
was spat out of her body on to him. As she stood 
there she looked like some one on whom a practical 
joke had been played, of the primitive and physical 
order, such as drenching, in some amusing manner, 
with dirty water. She had been decoyed into 
swallowing something disgusting. Her attitude was 
reminiscent of the way people are seen to stand bent 
awkwardly forward, neck craned out, slowly wiping 
the dirt off their clothes, or spitting out the remains of 
their polluted drink, cursing the joker. 

This had been, too, a desperate practical joke in its 
madness and inconsequence. But it was of the 
solemn and lonely order. At its consummation there 

180 



had been no chorus of intelligible laughter. An 
uncontrolled Satyr-like figure had leapt suddenly 
away : Bertha, in a struggle that had been out- 
rageous and extreme, fighting with the silence of 
a confederate beneath the same ban of the world. A 
joke too deep for laughter, parodying the phrase, 
alienating sorrow and tears, had been achieved. The 
victim had been conscious of an eeriness. 

A folded blouse lay on the corner of Kreisler's 
trunk. Bertha's arms and shoulders were bare, her 
hair hanging in wisps and strips, generally — a Salon 
picture was the result. For purposes of work (he had 
asked her to sit for him), the blouse had been put 
aside. A jagged tear in her chemise over her right 
breast also seemed the doing of a Salon artist of facile 
and commercial invention. 

Kreisler stood at the window. His eyes had a lazy, 
expressionless stare, his lips were open. Nerves 
brain and the whole body were still spinning and 
stunned, his muscles teeming with actions not 
finished, sharp, when the actions finished. He was 
still swamped and strung with violence. His sudden 
immobility, as he stood there, made the riot of move- 
ment and will rise to his brain like wine from a weak 
body. Satisfaction had, however, stilled everything 
except this tingling prolongation of action. 

The inanity of what had happened to her showed as 
her unique, intelligible feeling. Her being there at 
all, her eccentric conduct of the last week, what 
disgusting folly ! Ever since she had known Tarr, her 
11 sentiment " had been castigating her. A watchful 
fate appeared to be inventing morals to show her the 
folly of her perpetual romancing. And now this had 
happened. It was senseless. There was not a single 
atom of compensation anywhere. She was not one 
of those who, were there any solid compensation of 
sentiment and necessity (such as, in the most evident 
degree, was the case with Tarr), would draw back 
from natural conclusions. Then conclusive physical 
matters were a culmination of her romance, and not a 
separate and disloyal gratification. It never occurred 

181 



to her that they could be arrived at without traversing 
the romance. 

Was this to be explained as the boulevard incident 
had been explained by her ? Was she to proceed with 
her explanations and her part ? But this time it 
would be to herself that the explanations would have 
to be made. That was a different audience ; a dim 
feeling found its way into her, with a sort of sickening 
malice. She had a glimpse too of Kreisler's Bertha — 
the woman that you couldn't shake off, who, for some 
unimaginable reason, was always hanging on to you. 
She even had the strength to admit, distantly, the 
logic of this act — what had happened to her — still 
more disgusting and hateful than its illogic. The 
only thing that might have been found to mitigate, 
in some sense, the dreary, sudden madness of it, was 
that she felt practically nothing at all for Kreisler. 
It was like some violent accident of the high road, the 
brutality of a tramp. And — as that too would — it 
partook of the unreality of nightmare. 

A few minutes before he had been tranquilly working 
away at a drawing, she sitting in some pose she had 
taken up with quick ostentatious intelligence. Startled 
at his request to draw her shoulders she had imme- 
diately condemned this feeling. She had come to sit 
for him ; the mere idea that there was any danger 
was so repulsive that she immediately consented. 
He was an artist, too, of course. While he was 
working they had not talked. Then he had put down 
his paper and chalk, stretched, and said : 

" Your arms are like bananas ! " A shiver of 
warning had penetrated her at this. But still he was 
an artist : it was natural — even inevitable — that he 
should compare her arms to bananas. 

" Oh ! I hope you've made a good drawing. May 
I see ? " She intended to emphasize the reason of 
this exposure. 

He had got up, and before she knew what he was 
doing caught hold of her above the elbow, chafing 
her arm, saying : 

" You have pins and needles, Fraulein ? " The 
182 



" Fraulein " used here had some disquieting sound. 
She drew herself away, now serious and on the 
.defence. 

" No, thank you. Now I will put my blouse on, if 
you have finished." 

They had looked at each other uncertainly for a 
moment, he with a flushed rather silly fixed smile. 
She was afraid, somehow, to move away. 

" Let me rub your arm." Then with the fury of a 
man waking up to some insult, he had seized her. 
Her tardy words, furious struggling and all her con- 
tradictory emotions disappeared in the whirlpool 
towards which they had, with a strange deliberateness 
and yet aimlessness, been steering. 

He was standing there at the window now as though 
wishing to pretend that he had done nothing ; she 
" had been dreaming things " merely. The long 
silence and monotony of the posing had prepared 
her for the strangeness now. It had been the other 
extreme out of which she had been flung and into 
which, at present, she was again flung. She saw side 
by side and unconnected the silent figure drawing her 
and the other one full of blindness and violence. 
Then there were two other figures, one getting up 
from the chair, yawning, and the present lazy one 
at the window — four in all, that she could not bring 
together somehow, each in a complete compartment 
of time of its own. It would be impossible to make 
the present idle figure at the window interest itself 
in these others. A loathsome, senseless event, of no 
meaning, naturally, to that figure there. It had 
quietly, indifferently, talked : it had drawn : it had 
suddenly flung itself upon her and taken her, and now 
it was standing idly there. It could do all these 
things. It appeared to her in a series of precipitate 
states. It resembled in this a switchback, rising 
slowly, in a steady insouciant way to the top of an 
incline, and then plunging suddenly down the other. 
Or a mastiff's head turning indolently for some 
seconds and then snapping at a fly, detached again 
the next moment. Her fury and animal hostility 

183 



did not last more than a few minutes. She had come 
there, got what she did not expect, and now must go 
away again. There was positively nothing more to 
be said to Kreisler. She had spasmodic returns of 
raging. They did not pass her dourly active mind. 
There never had been anything to say to him. He was 
a mad beast. 

She now had to go away as though nothing had 
happened. It was nothing. After all what did it 
matter what became of her now ? Her body was of 
little importance — ghosts of romantic consolations 
here ! What was the good (seeing what she knew and 
everything) of storming against this man % She saw 
herself coming there that afternoon, talking with 
amiable affectation of interest in his work, in him (in 
him !), sitting for him ; a long, uninterrupted stream 
of amiability, talk, suddenly the wild few minutes, 
then the present ridiculous hush. 

The moral, heavily, too heavily, driven in by her no 
doubt German fate, found its mark in her mind. 
What Tarr laughed at her for — that silly and vulgar 
mush, was the cause of all this. Well ! 

She had done up her hair ; her hat was once more on 
her head. She went towards the door, her face really 
haggard, inevitable consciousness of drama too in it. 
Kreisler turned round, went towards the door also, 
unlocked it, let her pass without saying anything, 
and, waiting a moment, closed it indifferently again. 
She was let out as a workman would have been, who 
had been there to mend a shutter or rectify a bolt. 



CHAPTEE IX 

Bertha made her way home in a roundabout fashion 
to avoid the possibility of meeting any one she knew. 
The streets were loftily ignorant of her affairs. Thin 
walls dyked in affairs and happenings. Ha ha ! 
the importance of our actions ! Is it more than the 
kissing of the bricks % 

184 



She came out with mixed feelings ; gratefulness 
for the enormous indifference and ignorance flowing 
all round us ; anger and astonishment at finding 
herself walking away in this matter-of-fact manner ; 
suffering at the fact that the customary street scene 
would not mix with the obsession of her late experience. 

No doubt Nature was secret enough. But not to 
tell this experience of hers to anybody also would be 
shutting her in with Kreisler, somehow for good. 
She would never be able to escape the contamination 
of that room of his. It was one of those things that 
in some form one should be able to tell. She had a 
growing wish to make it known at once somewhere, 
in some shape. 

That is, at bottom, she still was inclined to continue 
things — dreams, fancies, explanations, sacrifices. 
Would nothing cure her ? The first feeling that this 
was finally the end of those things, that there was 
nothing further to be said or thought, was modified. 
She did not definitely think of telling any one — the 
moral was wearing off more quickly than it should. 
But the thought of this simple, unsensational walking 
away and ending up of everything in connexion with 
Kreisler irked her more and more. Anger revived 
spasmodically. Kreisler, by doing this, had made an 
absolute finishing with Kreisler perhaps impossible. 

There was nobody now in any sense on her side, or 
on whose side she could range herself. Kreisler had 
added himself to the worrying list of her women 
friends, Tarr, etc., in a disgusting, dumbfounding way, 
the list of people preying on her mind and pushing 
her to perpetual fuss, all sorts of explicative, defiant, 
or other actions. She had stuck Kreisler up as a 
" cause " against her friends. In a manner of his own, 
he had betrayed her and placed himself beside her 
friends. In any case, he had carried out in the fullest 
fashion their estimate of him. In being virtuous a 
libelled man can best attack his enemies ; in being 
" blackguardly," awaken a warmth of sympathy in 
corroborating them. Kreisler had acted satanically 
for her friends. 

185 



She had seen Elsa and her sister twice that week, 
but none of the others. Ungregariousness, keeping 
to herself, was explained by indisposition. Sorbert 
was meant by this. Her continued seeing of Kreisler 
was known to all now, and she could imagine their 
reception of that news. Now she could hardly go on 
talking about Kreisler. This would at once be 
interpreted as " something having happened." So 
more scandal against her name. In examining likeli- 
hoods of the future she concluded that she would 
have to break still more with her friends, to make up 
for having to retire from her Kreisler positions. To 
squash and counteract their satisfaction she must 
accentuate her independence in their direction to 
insult and contempt. 

The last half-hour of senseless outrage still took 
up all the canvas. Attempts to adjust her mind to a 
situation containing such an element as this was 
difficult. What could be done with it ? It took up 
too much space. Everything must come back and 
be referred to that. She wanted to tell this some- 
where. This getting closed in with Kreisler — a 
survival, perhaps, of her vivid fear of a little time 
before, when he had locked the door, and she knew 
that resisting him would be useless — must be at all 
costs avoided. 

Who could she tell ? Clara ? Madame Vannier ? 

Once home, she lay down and cried for some time, 
but without conjuring any of her trouble. 

Kreisler seemed to have suddenly brought con- 
fusion everywhere. There was nothing that would 
quite fit in with that ridiculous, disgusting event. 
He had even, in the end, driven her friends out of 
her mind, too. She would have said nothing had one 
turned up then. 

Having left Kreisler so simply and undramatically 
worried her. Something should have been done. 
There would have been the natural relief. But her 
direct human feelings of revenge had been paralysed. 
She thought of going back at once to his room. She 
could not begin life clearly again until something had 

186 



been done against him, or in some way where he 
was. 

- He had been treated by her as a cypher, as some- 
thing vague to put up against her friends. All 
along for the last week he had been a shadowy and 
actually unimportant figure. He had shown no con- 
sciousness of this. Rather dazed and machine-like 
himself, Bertha had treated him as she had found him. 
Suddenly, without any direct articulateness, he had 
revenged himself as a machine might do, in a night- 
mare. At a leap he was in the rigid foreground 
of her life. He had absorbed all the rest in an 
immense clashing wink. But the moment following 
this " desperateness " he stood, abstracted, distant 
and baffling as before. It was difficult to realize 
he was there. 

Tarr had been the real central and absorbing 
figure all along, of course, but purposely veiled. He 
had been as really all-important, though to all 
appearance eliminated, as Kreisler had been of no 
importance, though propped up in the foreground. 
Sorbert at last could no longer be suppressed and kept 
from coming forward now in her mind. But his 
presence, too, was perplexing. She had become so 
used to regarding him, though seeing him daily, as an 
uncertain and departing figure, that now he had 
really gone that did not make much difference. His 
proceedings, a carefully prepared anaesthesia for 
himself, had had its effect on her as well, serving 
for both. 

The bell rang. She stood up in one movement and 
stared towards the door. She looked as though she 
were waiting for the bell to ring two or three times to 
find resolution in that, one way or the other. It 
rang a second and third time. She did not know how 
much persistence would draw her to the door. But 
she knew that any definite show of energy would 
overcome her. Was it Elsa ? She had lighted her 
lamp, and her visitor could therefore have seen that 
she was at home. 

Bertha went to the door at length with affected 
187 



alacrity, in a pretence of not having heard the bell 
before, and opened it sharply. Kreisler was there. 
The opening of the door had been like the tearing of a 
characterless mask off a face. Had he not been 
looking at her through it all the time ? There did 
not seem room for them where they were standing. 
He looked to her like a great terrifying poster, cut 
out on the melodramatic stairway. She remained 
stone-still in front of him with a pinched expression, 
as though about to burst out crying, and something 
deprecating in her paralysed gesture, like a child. 
There was an analogy to a laugh struck dead on a 
child's face at a rebuff, souring and twisting all the 
features. 

Caricatured and enlarged to her eyes, she wanted 
to laugh for a moment. The surprise was complete. 

" What, what " Her mind formed his image, 

rather like a man compelled to photograph a ghost. 
Kreisler ! It was as though the world were made up 
of various animals, each of a different kind and 
physique even, and this were the animal Kreisler, 
whose name alone conjured up certain peculiar 
dangerous habits. A wild world, not of uniform men 
and women, but of very divergent and strangely 
living animals — Kreisler, Lipmann, Tarr. This man, 
about to speak to her again, on the same square foot 
of ground with her : he was not an apparition from 
any remote Past, but from a Past almost a Present, a 
half -hour old, much more startling. He had the too 
raw and too new colours of an image hardly digested, 
much less faded. When she had last seen him she 
had been still in the sphere of an intense agitation. 
His ominous and sudden appearance, so hardly out 
of that, seemed to swallow up the space and time in 
between. It was like the chilly return of a circling 
storm. She had imagined that it depended on her to 
see him or not, that he was pensive except when 
persistently approached. But here he was, this 
time, at last, following ! 



188 



CHAPTEE X 

He took a step forward, her room evidently his 
destination. 

" Mistvich ! " Bertha said, at the same time retreat- 
ing into the passage-way. — " Go ! " 

Got into the room, he did not seem to know what 
next to do. So far he had been evidently quite clear 
as to his purpose. He had been feeling the same 
necessity as her — he, to see his victim. He had not 
known what he wanted with her, but the obvious 
pretext and road for the satisfaction of this impulse 
was the seeking of pardon. 

She had a moment before felt that she must see 
him again, at once, before going further with her 
life. — He, more vague but more energetic, had come 
at the end of twenty minutes. They were now 
together, quite tongue-tied. Once he was there, the 
pretext appeared unnecessary. The real reason might 
be found. The real reason no doubt was an intuition 
not to lose her absolutely, the wisdom of his appetite 
counselling. 

He stood leaning on his cane, and staring in front 
of him. — Bertha stood quite still, as she would some- 
times do when a wasp entered the room, waiting to 
see if it would blunder about and then fly out again. 
He was a dangerous animal, he had got in there, and 
might in the same manner go off again in a minute 
or two. 

Now was the chance she had been fretting for to 
wipe out in some way what had happened ; — not to 
seem, anyhow, to have taken it all as a matter of 
course. — But it was too convenient. She had never 
reckoned on his actually coming and putting himself 
at her disposition in this way. He stood there 
without saying anything, just as though he had been 
sent for and it were for her to speak. — She would 
have been inclined to send him back to his room, and 
then, perhaps, go to Mm. 

Constantly on the point of " throwing him out," as 
189 



her energetic German idiom put it, it yet evidently 
would then, in the first place, be the same as before. 
Secondly, she was a good deal intimidated by his 
unexplained presence. She had a curiosity about 
him, — curiosity rather as to how what had happened 
to her could be straightened out or a little sense in 
some way got into it. The material of this modifica- 
tion was in him and only there. — She hated him 
thoroughly now. But this new and distinct feeling 
gave him at last some reality. — Her way of regarding 
Kreisler was that of the girl a man " has got into 
trouble," and to whom she looks to get her out of it. 

So she stood, anxious as to what he might have . 
come there to do, gradually settling down into a 
" proud and silent indignation," behind which her 
curiosity might wait and see what would transpire. 

Kreisler had at length, having allowed her to stay 
unexplained by his side for a week or so, divined 
some complication. Her case might possibly be 
similar to his ? She did not interest him any the 
more for this. But communication would not be, 
perhaps, absolutely useless. 

His only possibility of action at present was to act 
violently, in gusts. He did not know, when he began 
an action, whether he would be able to go through 
with it. — He could not now prevail upon himself to 
go through the senseless form of apology or anything 
else. He had got there, that would have to be 
sufficient. 

But the situation for Bertha became urgent, too. 
The difficulty was that there was nothing adequate to 
be done, that she could think of, in any way in pro- 
portion to the enormity of the occasion. Yet, to 
escape from the memory of Kreisler, what had 
happened must be wiped out, checkmated, by some 
action. She was still stunned and overwhelmed with 
the normal feminine feelings proper to the case. But 
yet even here there was an irregularity. Another 
source of infinite discomfort was that she could not 
even feel, as she should normally, the extent of the 
outrage, although it was evident enough. She had 

190 



an hysterical inclination, in waves of astonishment, to 
accept its paradoxical and persistent appearance. 
This appearance Kreisler's peculiar manner, her own 
present mind and the unexampled circumstances 
gave it. It was nothing, — a bagatelle ! — Pooh ! it is 
nothing, after all ! How can it be of any importance, 

seeing that ? — This was one of those things that 

seem to have got into the category of waking by 
mistake. It had nothing to do with life's context. 
And yet it was life. She must deal with it. 

She had wished to free Sorbert. That had been 
the beginning of all this. It was with idea of sacrifice 
in her mind that she had committed the first folly on 
the boulevard. — Well, she had succeeded. What did 
Kreisler mean ? — At last his significance was as clear 
as daylight. He meant always and everywhere merely 
that she could never see Tarr again ! 

She now faced him with fresh strength, her face 
illuminated with happy tragic resolve. — Supposing 
she had given herself to a man to compass this sacri- 
fice ? As it was, everything, except the hatefulness 
and violence of the act, had been spared her. And in 
telling Sorbert that there was something, now, 
between them, she had been driven to something, she 
would be nobly lying, and turning an involuntary act 
into a voluntary one. 

She could now, too, be tragically forbearing even 
with Kreisler. 

, " Herr Kreisler, I think I have waited long enough. 
Will you please leave my room % " 

He stirred gently like a heavy flower in a light 
current of wind. But he turned towards her and said : 

11 1 don't know what to say to you. — Is there 
nothing I can do to make up to you — % I shall go 
and shoot myself, Fraulein ! I cannot stand the 
thought of what I have done ! " 

This was perplexing and made her angry. He 
appeared to possess a genius for making things 
complicated and more difficult. 

"All I ask you is to go. That will be the best 
thing vou can do for me." 

191 



" Franlein, I can't ! — Do listen to me for a moment. 
— I cannot even refer to what has happened without 
insult in the mere direction of the words. — I am mad — 
mad — mad ! — You have showed yourself a good 
friend to me. And that is the way I repay you ! 
Were you anywhere but here and unprotected, there 
would be a man to answer to for this outrage. I will 
be that man myself ! — I come to ask your per- 
mission ! " 

His appetite, waking afresh, was the only directing 
thing in Kreisler at present. With hypocritical — 
almost palpably mock — eloquence, he was serving 
that. 

This talk alone would have been of little use or 
consequence to Bertha. But coming in conjunction 
with her new independent reinforcement, which alone 
would have been enough to shape things to a specious 
ending, it was in a way effective. — The new contra- 
diction and struggle in her mind was between her 
natural aversion for Kreisler now and her feeling of 
clemency towards him in his now beautiful usefulness. 

She was very dignified, wise, and clement when she 
answered : 

" Let us leave all that, if you please. — It was my 
fault. — I should have known better what I was doing. 
You must have been mad, as you say. But if you 
wish to show yourself a gentleman now, the only 
obvious thing is to go away, as I have said, and not 
to molest or remind me any further of what has 
passed. There is nothing more to say, is there ? — Go 
now, please ! " 

Kreisler flung himself on his knees, and seized her 
hand, she receiving this with astonished, questioning 
protestation. 

" Fraulein, you are an angel ! You don't know 
how much good you do me ! You are so good, so 
good ! There is nothing you can ask of me too much. 
I have done something I can never undo. It is as 
though you had saved my life. — Otto Kreisler you 
can always count on ! — The greatest service you can 
do me, that I humbly beg you may — is to ask some 

192 



service of me, the more difficult the better ! — Good- 
bye, Fraulein." 

Giving her hand a last hug, he sprang up, and 
Bertha heard him next stormily descending the stairs, 
and then farther away passing rapidly down the 
avenue. 

Bertha was distinctly affected by this demonstra- 
tion. It put a last brilliant light of grateful confusion 
on all the emotions emanating from Kreisler. The 
sort of notion he had evoked in parting that they 
had been doing something splendid together — a life- 
saving, a heroism — found a hospitable ground in her 
spirit. Taking everything together, things had been 
miraculously turned round. Her late blackness of 
depression and perplexity now merged in steadily 
growing relieved exaltation. 



CHAPTEE XI 

Tare had not gone to England. Kreisler had not 
been sufficient to accomplish this. He still persisted 
in his self-indulgent system of easy stages. A bus 
ride distant, he would be able to keep away. But in 
any case he did not wish to go to England, nor any- 
where else, for that matter. Paris was much the 
most suitable domicile, independently of Bertha, with 
his present plans. 

In the neighbourhood of the Place Clichy, in an old 
convent, he found a room big enough for four people. 
There, on the day of the second of the letters, he 
arrived in a state of characteristic misgiving. It was 
the habitual indigestion of Eeality. He was very 
fond of reality. But he was like a man very fond of 
what did not agree with him. It usually ended, 
however, by his assimilating it. 

The insouciant, adventurous, those needing no 

preparation to live, he did not admire, but felt he 

should imitate. — A new room was a thing that had 

to be fitted into as painfully as a foot into some new 

193 N 



and too elegant boot. The things deposited on the 
floor, the door finally closed on this new area to be 
devoted exclusively to himself, the blankest discom- 
fort descended on him. To undo and let loose upon 
the room his portmanteau's squashed and dishevelled 
contents — like a flock of birds, brushes, photographs 
and books flying to their respective places on dressing- 
table, mantelpiece, shelf or bibliothfeque ; boxes and 
parcels creeping dog-like under beds and into corners, 
taxed his character to the breaking-point. The 
unwearied optimism of these inanimate objects, the 
way they occupied stolidly and quickly room after 
room, was appalling. Then they were packed up 
things, with the staleness of a former room about 
them, and the souvenir of a depressing time of 
tearing up, inspecting, and interring. 

This preliminary discomfort was less than ever 
spared him here. He had cut his way to this decision 
(to go and live in Montmartre), through a bristling 
host of incertitudes. A place would have had to be 
particularly spacious to convince him. This large 
studio -room was worse than any desert. It had been 
built for something else, and would never be right. — 
A large square whitewashed box was what he wanted 
to pack himself into. This was an elaborate carved 
chest of a former age. He would no doubt pack it 
eventually with consoling memories of work. He 
started work at once, in fact. This was his sovereign 
cure for new rooms. 

Half an hour after his taking possession, it being < 
already time for the aperitif, he issued forth into the 
new quarter. There were a few clusters of men. 
The Spanish men dancers were coloured earth-objects, 
full of basking and frisking instincts ; the atmosphere 
of the harlot's life went with them, and Spanish 
reasonableness and civility. He chose a caf6 on the 
Place Clichy. The hideous ennui of large gim crack 
shops and dusty public offices pervaded other groups 
of pink, mostly dark-haired Frenchmen drinking 
appetizers. They responded with their personalities 
on the cafe terraces to the emptiness of the boulevard. 

194 



He had not any friends in Montmartre. But he 
had not been at the caf6 above a few minutes, when 
he saw a familiar face approaching. It was a model 
(Berthe, by name, though bringing no reminder with 
her of the other " Berthe " he knew) with an English 
painter he saw for the first time, but whom he had 
just heard about in connexion with this girl. Berthe 
knew Tarr very slightly. But she chose a table near 
him, with a nod, and shortly opened conversation. 
She meant to talk to him evidently. She asked 
about one or two people Tarr knew. 

" Do you' wish me to present you ? " she said, 
looking towards her protector. " This is Mr. Tarr, 
Dick." 

So it was done. 

" Why don't you come and sit here ? " That too 
was done, partly from inquisitiveness. 

The young Englishman annoyed Tarr by pretending 
to be alarmed every time he was addressed. He had 
a wide-open, wondering eye, fixed on the world in 
timid serenity. It did not appear at first to under- 
stand what you said, and rolled a little alarm edly, 
even so only to be filled the next moment with some 
unexpected light of whimsical intelligence. It had 
understood all the time ! It was only its art to 
surprise you, and its English affectation of unreadiness 
and childishness. 

> He was a great big child, wandering through life ! 
The young Latin wishes to impress you with his 
ability to look after himself. General idiocy of 
demeanour, on the other hand, is the fashionable 
English style. This young man was six feet one, 
with a handsome beak in front of his face, meant for 
a super-Emersonian mildness. His " wide awake " 
was large, larger than Hobson's. Innumerable minor 
Tennysons had planted it on his head, or bequeathed 
a desire for it to this ultimate Dick of long literary 
line. His family was allied to much Victorian talent. 
Bat, alas, thought Tarr, how much worse it is when 
the mind gets thin than when the blood loses its body, 
in merely aristocratic refinement. Intellectual aristo- 

195 



cracy in the fifth generation ! — but Tarr gazed at the 
conclusive figure in front of him, words failing. 
Words failed, too, for maintaining conversation with 
it. He soon got up, and left, his first aperitif at 
Montmartre unsatisfactory. 

He did not take possession of his new life with very 
much conviction. After dinner he went to a neigh- 
bouring music hall, precariously amused, soothed by 
the din. But he eventually left with a headache. 
The strangeness of the streets, caf^s, and places of 
entertainment depressed him deeply. Had it been 
an absolutely novel scene, he would have found 
stimulus in it. But it was like a friend grown 
indifferent, or something perfectly familiar with the 
richness of habit taken out of it. Tarr was gregarious 
in the sense that usually he liked his room and some 
familiar streets with their traces of familiar men. 
And where more energetic spirit suggested some 
truer solitude to him, he would never have sought it 
where a vestige of inanimate friendship remained. 

Here, where he had chosen to live, he appeared as 
though fallen in some intermediate negative existence. 
Unusually for him, he felt alone. To be alone was 
essentially a nondescript, lowered, and unreal state 
for him. 

The following morning Tarr woke, his legs rather 
cramped and tired, and not thoroughly rested. But 
as soon as he was up, work came quite easily. 

He got his paints out, and without beginning on 
his principal canvas, took up a new and smaller one 
by way of diversion. Squaring up a drawing of 
three naked youths sniffing the air, with rather 
worried Greek faces and heavy nether limbs, he stuck 
it on the wall with pins and drew his camp easel up 
alongside it. He squared up his canvas on the floor 
with a walking-stick, and fixed it on the easel. To 
get a threadlike edge a pencil had to be sharpened 
several times. 

By the end of the afternoon he had got a witty 
pastiche on the way. Two colours principally had 
been used, mixed in piles on two palettes : a smoky, 

196 



bilious saffron, and a pale transparent lead. The 
significance of the thing depended first on the 
psychology of the pulpy limbs, strained dancers' 
attitudes and empty faces ; secondly, the two colours 
and the simple yet contorted curves. 

Work over, his depression again grasped him, like 
an immensely gloomy companion who had been 
idling impatiently while he worked. He promenaded 
this companion in " Montmartre by Night," without 
improving his character. Nausea glared at him from 
every object met. Sex surged up and martyrized 
him, but he held it down rather than satisfy himself 
with its elementary servants. 

The next day, merne jeu. He sat for hours in the 
fatiguing evening among a score of relief ships or 
pleasure boats, hesitating, but finally rejecting relief 
or pleasure. And the next day it was the same 
thing. 

Meantime his work progressed. But to escape 
these persecutions he worked excessively. His eyes 
began to prick, and on the sixth day he woke up 
with a headache. He was sick and unable to work. 

Tarr decided he had been mistaken in remaining in 
Paris. The fascination of the omnibuses bound for 
the Rive gauche was almost irresistible. Destiny 
had granted him the necessary resolution to break. 
He could have gone away — anywhere, even. His 
will had then offered him a free ticket, as it were, to 
any end of the earth. Or simply, and most sensibly, 
to London. And yet he had decided to go no farther 
than Montmartre, in the unwisdom of his sense of 
energy and freedom of that moment. Now the 
" free ticket " was not any more available. His Will 
had changed. It offered all sorts of different bus 
tickets, merely, which would conduct him, avec and 
sans correspondence, in the direction of the Quartier 
du Paradis. 

Why not go back again, simply, in fact ? The 
mandates of the governing elements in our nature, 
resolves, etc., were childish enough things. His 
resentment against Bertha, and resolve to quit, would 

197 



always be there. There was room in life for the 
satisfaction of this impulse, and the equally strong 
one to see her again. The road back to the Quartier 
du Paradis would probably have been taken quite 
soon, only it needed in a way as much of an effort in 
the contrary direction to get back as it had to get 
away. He did not know what might await him 
either. She might really have given him up and 
changed her life. He had not the necessary experience 
to dismiss that possibility. 

But at last one evening he did go. He went 
deliberately up to an omnibus " Clichy — St. Germain," 
and took his seat under its roof. He was resolved to 
glut himself, without any atom of self-respect or 
traces of " resolve " remaining, in what he had been 
wanting to do for a week. He would go to Bertha's 
rooms, even find out what had been happening in his 
absence. He might even, perhaps, hang about a 
little outside, and try to surprise her in some manner. 
Then he would behave en maltre, there would be 
no further question of his having given her up and 
renounced his rights. He would behave just as 
though he had never gone away or the letters been 
sent. He would claim her again with all the appeals 
he knew to her love for him. He would conduct 
himself without a scrap of dignity or honesty. Once 
the " resolution " and pride of his retiring had been 
broken down, it was thenceforth immaterial to what 
length he went. In fact, better be frankly weak and 
unprincipled in his actions and manner, go the whole 
length of his defeat and confusion. In such complete- 
ness there remains a grain of superiority and energy. 

But once started in his bus, a wave of excitement 
and anxiety surged in him with hot gushes. — What 
awaited him ? He fancied all sorts of strange develop- 
ments. — Perhaps,after all, his journey would not satisfy 
his weaker movement, but confirm and establish 
definitely his more sensible resolves. Perhaps weak- 
nesses would find at last the door closed against them. 

He smiled at the city as they passed through it, 
with the glee of a boy on a holiday excursion. 

198 



PART V 
A MEGEIM OF HUMOUE 

CHAPTEE I 

Some days later, in the evening, Tarr was to be found 
in a strange place. Decidedly his hosts could not 
have explained how he got there. He displayed no 
consciousness of the anomaly. 

He had introduced himself — now for the second 
time — into Fraulein Lipmann's aesthetic saloon, after 
dining with her and her following at Flobert's Eestau- 
rant. As inexplicable as Kreisler's former visits, 
these ones that Tarr began to make were not so 
perfectly unwelcome. There was a glimmering of 
meaning in them for Bertha's women friends. He 
had just walked in two nights before, as though he 
were an old and established visitor there, shaken 
hands and sat down. He then listened to their 
music, drank their coffee and went away apparently 
satisfied. Did he consider that his so close connexion 
with Bertha entitled him to this ? It was at all 
events a prerogative he had never before availed 
himself of, except on one or two occasions at first, in 
her company. 

The women's explanation of this eccentric sudden 
frequentation was that Tarr was in despair. His 
separation from Bertha (or her conduct with Kreisler) 
had hit him hard. He wished for consolation or 
mediation. 

Neither of these guesses was right. It was really 
199 



something absurder than that that had brought him 
there. 

Only a week or ten days away from his love affair 
with Bertha, Tarr was now coming back to the old 
haunts and precincts of his infatuation. He was 
living it all over again in memory, the central and all 
the accessory figures still in exactly the same place. 
Suddenly, everything to do with " those days," as 
he thought of a week or two before (or what had 
ended officially then) had become very pleasing. 
Bertha's women friends were delightful landmarks. 
Tarr could not understand how it was he had not 
taken an interest in them before. They had so much 
of the German savour of that life lived with Bertha 
about them ! 

But not only with them, but with Bertha Iter self he 
was likewise carrying on this mysterious retrospective 
life* He was so delighted, as a fact, to be free of 
Bertha that he poetized herself and all her belong- 
ings. 

On this particular second visit to Fraulein Lip- 
mann's he met Anastasya Vasek. She, at least, was 
nothing to do with his souvenirs. Yet, not realizing 
her as an absolute new-comer at once, he accepted her 
as another proof of how delightful these people in 
truth were. 

He had been a very silent guest so far. They were 
curious to hear what this enigma should eventually 
say, when it decided to speak. 

" How is Bertha ? " they had asked him. 

" She has got a cold," he had answered. It was a 
fact that she had caught a summer cold several days 
before. — "How strange! " they thought. — "So he sees 
her still ! " 

" She hasn't been to Flobert's lately," Eenee 
Lipmann said. " I've been so busy, or I'd have gone 
round to see her. She's not in bed, is she ? " 

" Oh, no, she's just got a slight cold. She's very 
well otherwise," Tarr answered. 

Bertha disappears. Tarr turns up tranquilly in her 
place. Was he a substitute ? What could all this 

200 



mean ? Their first flutter over, their traditional 
hostility for him reawakened. He had always been 
an arrogant, eccentric, and unpleasant person : 
" Homme egoiste ! Homme sensuel ! " in Van 
Bencke's famous words. 

On seeing him talking with new liveliness, not 
displayed with them, to Anastasya, suspicions began 
to germinate. Even such shrewd intuition, a develop- 
ment from the reality, as this : " Perhaps getting to 
lilce Germans, and losing Ms first, he had come here to 
find another." Comfortable in his liberty, he was still 
enjoying, by proxy or otherwise, the satisfaction of 
slavery. 

The arrogance implied by his infatuation for the 
commonplace was taboo. He must be more humble, 
he felt, and take an interest in his equals. 

He had been " Homme egoiste " so far, but 
" Homme sensuel " was an exaggeration. His con- 
cupiscence had been undeveloped. His Bertha, if she 
had not been a joke, would not have satisfied him. 
She did not succeed in waking his senses, although 
she had attracted them. There was no more reality 
in their sex relations than in their other relations. 

He now had a closer explanation of his attachment 
to stupidity than he had been able to give Lowndes. 
It was that his artist's asceticism could not support 
anything more serious than such an elementary rival, 
and, when sex was in the ascendant, it turned his 
eyes away from the highest beauty and dulled the 
extremities of his senses, so that he had nothing but 
rudimentary inclinations left. 

But in the interests of his animalism he was turning 
to betray the artist in him. For he had been saying 
to himself lately that a more suitable lady-companion 
must be found ; one, that is, he need not be ashamed 
of. He felt that the time had arrived for Life to 
come in for some of the benefits of Consciousness. 

Anastasya's beauty, bangles, and good sense were 
the very thing. 

Despite himself, Sorbert was dragged out of his 
luxury of reminiscence without knowing it, and 

201 



began discriminating between the Bertha enjoyment 
felt through the pungent German medium of her 
friends, and this novel sensation. Yet this sensation 
was an intruder. It was as though a man having 
wandered sentimentally along an abandoned route, a 
tactless and gushing acquaintance had been discovered 
in unlikely possession. 

Tarr asked her from what part of Germany she 
came. 

" My parents are Eussian. I was born in Berlin 
and brought up in America. We live in Dresden," 
she answered. 

This accounted for her jarring on his maudlin 
German reveries. 

" Lots of Eussian families have settled latterly in 
Germany, haven't they ? " he asked. 

" Eussians are still rather savage. The more 
bourgeois a place or thing is the more it attracts 
them. German watering places, musical centres and 
so on, they like about as well as anything. They 
often settle there." 

"Do you regard yourself as a Eussian — or a 
German ! " 

" Oh, a Eussian. I " 

" I'm glad of that," said Tarr, quite forgetting 
where he was, and forgetting the nature of his 
occupation. 

" Don't you like Germans then ! " 

" Well, now you remind me of it, I do : — very 
much, in fact," He shook himself with self-reproach 
and gazed round benignantly and comfortably at his 
hosts. " Else I shouldn't be here ! They're such a 
nice, modest, assimilative race, with an admirable 
sense of duty. They are born servants ; excellent 
mercenary troops, I understand. They should always 
be used as such." 

" I see you know them a fond." She laughed in 
the direction of the Lipmann. 

He made a deprecating gesture. 

" Not much. But they are an accessible and 
friendly people." 

202 



" You are English ? " 

" Yes." 

He treated his hosts with a warm benignity which 
sought, perhaps, to make up for past affronts. It 
appeared only to gratify partially. He was treating 
them like part and parcel of Bertha. They were not 
ready to accept this valuation, that of chattels of her 
world. 

The two Kinderbachs came over and made an 
affectionate demonstration around and upon Anas- 
tasya. She got up, scattering them abruptly, and 
went over to the piano. 

" What a big brute ! " Tarr thought. " She would 
be just as good as Bertha to kiss. And you get a 
respectable human being into the bargain ! " He was 
not intimately convinced that she would be as satis- 
factory. Let us see how it would be ; he considered. 
This larger machine of repressed, moping senses did 
attract. To take it to pieces, bit by bit, and penetrate 
to its intimacy, might give a similar pleasure to 
undressing Bertha ! 

Possessed of such an intense life as Anastasya, 
women always appeared on the verge of a dark 
spasm of unconsciousness. With their organism of 
fierce mechanical reactions, their self-possession was 
rather bluff. So much more accomplished socially 
than men, yet they were not the social creatures, but 
men. Surrender to a woman was a sort of suicide 
for an artist. Nature, who never forgives an artist, 
would never allow her to forgive. With any 
11 superior " woman he had ever met, this feeling of 
being with a parvenu never left him. Anastasya was 
not an exception. 

On leaving, Tarr no longer felt that he would come 
back to enjoy a diffused form of Bertha there. The 
prolongations of his Bertha period had passed a 
climax. 

On leaving Ben£e Lipmann's, nevertheless, Tarr 
went to the Caf6 de PAigle, some distance away, but 
with an object. To make his present frequentation 
quite complete, it only needed Kreisler. Otto was 

203 



there, very much on his present visiting list. He 
visited him regularly at the Caf6 de l'Aigle, where he 
was constantly to be found. 

This is how Tarr had got to know him. 



CHAPTEE II 

Tare had arrived at Bertha's place about seven in 
the evening on his first return from Montmartre. He 
hung about for a little. In ten minutes' time he had 
his reward. She came out, followed by Kreisler. 
Bertha did not see him at first. He followed on the 
other side of the street, some fifteen yards behind. 
He did this with sleepy gratification. All was well. 

Eelations with her were now, it must be clear, 
substantially at an end. A kind of good sensation of 
alternating jealousy and regret made him wander 
along with obedient gratitude. Should she turn 
round and see him, how uncomfortable she would be ! 
How naturally alike in their mechanical marching 
gait she and the German were ! He was a distinct 
third party. Being a stranger, with very different 
appearance, thrilled him agreeably. By a little 
manoeuvre of short cuts he would get in front of 
them. This he did. 

Bertha saw him as he debouched from his turning. 
She stopped dead, and appeared to astonished 
Kreisler to be about to take to her heels. It was 
flattering in a way that his mere presence should 
produce this effect. He went up to her. Her palm 
a sentimental instrument of weak, aching, heavy 
tissues, she gave him her hand, face fixed on him in a 
mask of regret and reproach. Fascinated by the 
intensity of this, he had been staring at her a little 
too long, perhaps with some of the reflection of her 
expression. He turned towards Kreisler. He found 
a, to him, conventionally German indifferent coun- 
tenance. 

204 



11 Herr Kreisler," Bertha said with laconic energy, 
as though she were uttering some fatal name. Her 
" Herr Kreisler " said hollowly, " It's done ! " It 
also had an inflexion of " What shall I do ? " 

A sick energy saturated her face, the lips were inde- 
cently compressed, the eyes wide, dull, with red rims. 

Tarr bowed to Kreisler as Bertha said his name. 
Kreisler raised his hat. Then, with a curious feeling 
of already thrusting himself on these people, he began 
to walk along beside Bertha. She moved like an 
unconvinced party to a bargain, who consents to walk 
up and down a little, preliminary to a final considera- 
tion of the affair. " Yes, but walking won't help 
matters," she might have been saying. Kreisler's 
indifference was absolute. There was an element of 
the child's privilege in Tarr's making himself of the 
party (" Sorbet, tu es si jeune "). There was the 
claim for indulgence of a spirit not entirely serious ! 
The childishness of this turning up as though nothing 
had happened, with such wilful resolve not to recognize 
the seriousness of things, Bertha's drama, the signi- 
ficance of the awful words, " Herr Kreisler ! " and so 
on, was present to him. Bertha must know the 
meaning of his rapid resurrection — she knew him too 
well not to know that. So they walked on, without 
conversation. Then Tarr inquired if she were " quite 
well." 

' " Yes, Sorbert, quite well," she replied, with soft 
tragic banter. 

As though by design, he always found just the 
words or tone that would give an opening for this 
sentimental irony of hers. 

But the least hint that he had come to reinstate 
himself must not remain. It must be clearly under- 
stood that Kreisler was the principal figure now. He, 
Tarr, was only a privileged friend. 

With unflattering rapidity somebody else had been 
found. Her pretension to heroic attachment was 
compromised. Should not he put in for the vacated 
berth ? 

He had an air of welcoming Kreisler. " Make 
205 



yourself at home ; don't mind me," his manner said. 
As to showing him over the premises he was taking 
possession of — he had made the inspection, himself, 
no doubt ! 

" We have a mutual friend, Lowndes," Tarr said 
to Kreisler, pleasantly. " A week or two ago he was 
going to introduce me to you, but it was fated " 

" Ah, yes, Lowndes," said Kreisler, " I know him." 

" Has he left Paris, do you know ? " 

" 1 think not. I thought I saw him yesterday, 
there, in the Boulevard du Paradis." Kreisler nodded 
over his shoulder, indicating precisely the spot on 
which they had met. His gesture implied that 
Lowndes might still be found thereabout. 

Bertha shrank in " subtle " pantomime from their 
affability. From the glances she pawed her German 
friend with, he must deserve nothing but horrified 
avoidance. Sorbert's astute and mischievous way of 
saddling her with Kreisler, accepting their being 
together as the most natural thing in life, roused her 
combativity. Tarr honoured him, clearly out of 
politeness to her. Very well : all she could do for 
the moment was to be noticeably distant with 
Kreisler. She must display towards him the disgust 
and reprobation that Tarr should feel, and which he 
refused, in order to vex her. 



Kreisler during the last few days had persisted and 
persisted. He had displayed some cleverness in his 
choice of means. As a result of overtures and 
manoeuvres, Bertha had now consented to see him. 
Her demoralization was complete. She could not 
stand up any longer against the result, personified by 
Kreisler, of her idiotic actions. At present she 
transferred her self -hatred from herself to Kreisler. 

Tarr's former relations with Bertha were known to 
him. He resented the Englishman's air of proprietor- 
ship, the sort of pleasant " handing-over " that was 
going on. It had for object, he thought, to cheapen 
his little success. 

206 



11 1 don't think, Herr Kreisler, I'll come to dinner 
after all." She stood still and rolled her eyes wildly 
in several directions, and stuck one of her hands 
stiffly out from her side. 

" Very well, Fraulein," he replied evenly. — The 
dismissal annoyed him. His eyes took in Tarr com- 
pendiously in passing. Was this a resuscitation of old 
love at his expense ? Tarr had perhaps come to 
claim his property. This was not the way that is 
usually done. 

" Adieu, Herr Kreisler," sounded like his dismissal. 
A " never let me see you again ; understand that here 
things end ! " was written baldly in her very bald 
eyes. With irony he bid good day to Tarr. 

" I hope we shall meet again " : Tarr shook him 
warmly by the hand. 

" It is likely," Kreisler replied at once. 

As yet Kreisler was undisturbed. He intended not 
to relinquish his acquaintance with Bertha Lunken. 
If the Englishman's amiability were a polite way of 
reclaiming property left ownerless and therefore 
susceptible of new rights being deployed as regards it, 
then in time those later rights would be vindicated. 
Kreisler's first impression of Tarr was not flattering. 
But no doubt they would meet again, as he had said. 



CHAPTEE III 

Bertha held out her hand brutally, in a sort of spasm 
of will : said, in the voice of " finality," 

" Good-bye, Sorbet : good-bye ! " 

He did not take it. She left it there a moment, 
saying again, " Good-bye ! " 

" Good-bye, if you like," he said at length. " But 
I see no reason why we should part in this manner. 
If Kreisler wouldn't mind " — he looked after him — 
" we might go for a little walk. Or will you come 
and have an apfritifl " 

207 



" No, Sorbert, I'd rather not. — Let us say good-bye 
at once ; will you ? " 

" My dear girl, don't be so silly ! " He took her 
arm and dragged her towards a cafe, the first on the 
boulevard they were approaching. 

She hung back, prolonging the personal contact, 
yet pretending to be resisting it with ivonder. 

" I can't, Sorbert. Je ne peux pas ! " purring her 
lips out and rolling her eyes. She went to the caf£ 
in the end. For some time conversation hung back. 

" How is Fraulein Lipmann getting on ? " 

" I don't know. I haven't seen her." 

11 Ah ! " 

Tarr felt he had five pieces to play. He had 
played one. The other four he toyed with in a lazy 
way. 

" Van Bencke ? " 

" I have not seen her." 

That left three. 

" How is Isolde f " 

" I don't know." 

" Seen the Kinderbachs ! " 

" One of them." 

" How is Clara » " 

11 Clara ? She is quite well, I think." 

The solder for the pieces of this dialogue was a 
dreary grey matter that Bertha supplied. Their talk 
was an unnecessary column on the top of which she 
perched herself with glassy quietude. 

She turned to him abruptly as though he had been 
hiding behind her, and tickling her neck with a piece 
of feather-grass. 

" Why did you leave me, Sorbert ? — Why did you 
leave me ? " 

He filled his pipe, and then said, feeling like a bad 
actor : 

" I went away at that particular moment, as you 
know, because I had heard that Herr Kreisler " 

" Don't speak to me about Kreisler — don't mention 
his name, I beg you. — I hate that man. — Ugh ! " 

Genuine vehemence made Tarr have a look at her. 
208 



Of course she would say that. She was using too 
much genuineness, though, not to be rather flush of 
it for the moment. 

" But I don't see " 

" Don't ; don't ! " She sat up suddenly in her 
chair and shook her finger in his face. " If you 
mention Kreisler again, Sorbert, I shall hate you too ! 
I especially pray you not to mention him." 

She collapsed, mouth drawn down at corners. 

11 As you like." In insisting he would appear to 
be demanding an explanation. Any hint of excep- 
tional claims on her confidence must be avoided. 

" Why did you leave me ? — You don't know. — I 
have been mad ever since. One is as helpless as can 
be — When you are here once more, I feel how weak 
I am without you. It has not been fair. I have felt 
just as though I had got out of a sick-bed. I am not 

BLAMING yOU." 

They went to Flobert's from the caf6. It was after 
nine o'clock, and the place was empty. She bought 
a wing of chicken ; at a dairy some salad and eggs ; 
two rolls at the baker's, to make a cold supper at 
home. It was more than she would need for herself. 
Sorbert did not offer to share the expense. At the 
gate leading to her house he left her. 

Immediately afterwards, walking towards the ter- 
minus of the Montmartre omnibus, he realized that 
he was well in the path that led away, as he had not 
done while still with her. He was glad and sorry, 
doing homage to her and the future together. She 
had a fascination as a moribund Bertha. The 
immobile short sunset of their friendship should be 
enjoyed. A rich throwing up and congesting of 
souvenirs on this threshold were all the better for the 
weak and silly sun. Oh what a delightful, imper- 
turbable clockwork orb ! 

The next day he again made his way across Paris 
from Montmartre at a rather earlier hour. He 
invited himself to tea with her. They talked as 
though posing for their late personalities. 

He took up deliberately one or two controversial 
209 o 



points. In a spirit of superfluous courtesy lie went 
back to the subject of several of their old typical 
disputes, and argued against himself. 

All their difficulties seemed swept away in a 
relaxed humid atmosphere, most painful and dis- 
agreeable to her. He agreed entirely with her, now 
agreeing no longer meant anything ! But the key 
was elsewhere. Enjoyment of and acquiescence in 
everything Berthaesque and Teutonic was where it 
was to be found. Just as now he went to see Bertha's 
very German friends, and said " How delightful " to 
himself, so he appeared to be resolved to come back 
for a week or two and to admire everything formerly 
he had found most irritating in Bertha herself. 
Before retiring definitely, like a man who hears that 
the rind of the fruit he has just been eating is good, 
and comes back to his plate to devour the part he 
had discarded, Tarr returned to have a last tankard 
of German beer. 

Or still nearer the figure, his claim in the unexcep- 
tionable part of her now lapsed, he had returned 
demanding to be allowed to live just a little while 
longer on the absurd and disagreeable section. 

Bertha suffered, on her side, more than all the rest 
of the time she had spent with him put together. To 
tell the whole Kreisler story might lead to a fight. It 
was too late now. She could not, she felt, in honour, 
seek to re-entangle Tarr, nor could she disown Kreisler. 
She had been found with Kreisler : she had no 
means of keeping him away for good. An attempt 
at suppressing him might produce any result. Should 
she have been able, or desired to resume her relations 
with Tarr, Kreisler would not have left him unin- 
formed of things that had happened, shown in the 
most uncongenial light. If left alone, and not driven 
away like a dog, he might gradually quiet down and 
disappear. Sorbert would be gone, too, by that time ! 

Their grand, never-to-be-forgotten friendship was 
ending in shabby shallows. Tarr had the best role, 
and did not deserve it. Kreisler was the implacable 
remote creditor of the situation. 

210 



CHAPTEE IV 

Tare, left Bertha punctually at seven. She looked 
very ill. He resolved not to go there any more. 
He felt upset. Lejeune's, when he got there, was 
full of Americans. It was like having dinner among 
a lot of canny children. Kreisler was not there. 
He went on a hunt for him afterwards, and r n him 
to earth at the Cafe de l'Aigle. 

Kreisler was not cordial. He emitted sounds of 
surprise, shuffled his feet and blinked. But Tarr 
sat down in front of him on his own initiative. Then 
Kreisler, calling the g argon, offered him a drink. 
Afterwards he settled down to contemplate Bertha's 
Englishman, and await developments. He was 
always rather softer with people with whom he could 
converse in his own harsh tongue. 

The causes at the root of Tarr's present thrusting 
of himself upon Kreisler were the same as his later 
visits at the Lipmann's. A sort of bath of Germans 
was his prescription for himself, a voluptuous im- 
mersion. To heighten the effect, he was being 
German himself : being Bertha as well. 

But he was more German than the Germans. 
Many aspects of his conduct were so un-German that 
Kreisler did not recognize the portrait or hail him 
as 'a fellow. Successive lovers of a certain woman 
fraternizing ; husbands hobnobbing with their wives' 
lovers or husbands of their unmarried days is a 
commonplace of German or Scandinavian society. 

Kreisler had not returned to Bertha's. He was 
too lazy to plan conscientiously. But he concluded 
that she had better be given scope for anything the 
return of Tarr might suggest. He, Otto Kreisler, 
might be supposed no longer to exist. His mind was 
working up again for some truculent action. Tarr 
was no obstacle. He would just walk through Tarr 
like a ghost when he saw fit to " advance " again. 

" You met Lowndes in Borne, didn't you ? " Tarr 
asked him. 

211 



Kreisler nodded. 

" Have you seen Fraulein Lunken to-day ? " 

" No." As Tarr was coming to the point Kreisler 
condescended to speak : "I shall see her to-morrow 
morning." 

A space for protest or comment seemed to be left 
after this sentence, in Kreisler' s still very " speaking " 
expression. 

Tarr smiled at the tone of this piece of information. 
Kreisler at once grinned, mockingly, in return. 

" You can get out of your head any idea that I 
have turned up to interfere with your proceedings," 
Tarr then said. " Affairs lie entirely between 
Fraulein Lunken and yourself." 

Kreisler met this assurance truculently. 

" You could not interfere with my proceedings. 

I do what I want to do in this life ! " 

" How splendid. Wunderbar I I admire you ! " 

" Your admiration is not asked for ! " 

" It leaps up involuntarily ! Prosit ! But I did 
not mean, Herr Kreisler, that my desire to interfere, 
had such desire existed, would have been tolerated. 
Oh, no ! I meant that no such desire existing, we 
had no cause for quarrel. Prosit ! " 

Tarr again raised his glass expectantly and coax- 
ingly, peering steadily at the German. He said, 

II Prosit " as he would have said, " Peep -oh ! " 

" Pros't ! " Kreisler answered with alarming sud- 
denness, and an alarming diabolical smile. " Prosit ! " 
with finality. He put his glass down. " That is all 
right. I have no desire" he wiped and struck up 
his moustaches, " to quarrel with anybody. I wish 
to be left alone. That is all." 

" To be left alone to enjoy your friendship with 
Bertha — that is your meaning ? Am I not right ? 
I see." 

" That is my business. I wish to be left alone" 

" Of course it's your business, my dear chap. 
Have another drink ! " He called the gargon. 
Kreisler agreed to another drink. 

Why was this Englishman sitting there and talking 
212 



to him ? It was in the German style and yet it 
wasn't. Was Kreisler to be shifted, was he meant 
to go ? Had the task of doing this been put on 
Bertha's shoulders ? Had Tarr come there to ask 
him, or in the hope that he would volunteer a promise, 
never to see Bertha again ? 

On the other hand, was he being approached by 
Tarr in the capacity of an old friend of Bertha's, or 
in her interests or at her instigation ? 

With frowning impatience he bent forward quickly 
once or twice, asking Tarr to repeat some remark. 
Tarr's German was not good. 

Several glasses of beer, and Kreisler became 
engagingly expansive. 

" Have you ever been to England ? " Tarr asked him. 

11 England ? — No — I should like to go there ! I 
like Englishmen ! I feel I should get on better with 
them than with these French. I hate the French ! 
They are all actors." 

" You should go to London." 

" Ah, to London. Yes, I should go to London ! 
It must be a wonderful town ! I have often meant 
to go there. Is it expensive ? " 

" The journey ? " 

11 Well, life there. Dearer than it is here, I have 
been told." Kreisler forgot his circumstances for 
the moment. The Englishman seemed to have hit 
on a means of escape for him. He had never thought 
of England ! A hazy notion of its untold wealth 
made it easier for him to put aside momentarily the 
fact of his tottering finances. 

Perhaps this Englishman had been sent him by 
the SchicJcsal. He had always got on well with 
Englishmen ! 

The peculiar notion then crossed his mind that 
Tarr perhaps wanted to get him out of Paris, and had 
come to make him some offer of hospitality in England. 
In a bargaining spirit he began to run England 
down. He must not appear too anxious to go there. 

" They say, though, things have changed. 
England's not what it was," he said. 

213 



" No. But it has changed for the better." 

" I don't believe it ! " 

" Quite true. The last time I was there it had 
improved so much that I thought of stopping. 
Merry England is foutu ! There won't be a regular 
Pub. in the whole country in fifty years. Art will 
flourish ! There's not a real gipsy left in the country. 
The sham art-ones are dwindling ! " 

" Are the Zigeuner disappearing ? " 

" Je vous crois ! Eather ! " 

" The only Englishmen I know are very sym- 
pathisch" 

They pottered about on the subject of England 
for some time. Kreisler was very tickled with the 
idea of England. 

" English women — what are they like ? " Kreisler 
then asked with a grin. Their relations made this 
subject delightfully delicate and yet, Kreisler thought, 
very natural. This Englishman was evidently a 
description of pander, and no doubt he would be as 
inclined to be hospitable with his countrywomen in 
the abstract as with his late fiancee in material 
detail. 

" A friend of mine who had been there told me they 
were very ' pretty ' " — he pronounced the English 
word with mincing slowness and mischievous inter- 
rogation marks in his distorted face. 

" Tour friend did not exaggerate. They are like 
languid nectarines ! You would enjoy yourself there." 

" But I can't speak English — only a little. ' I 
spik Ingleesh a leetle,' " he attempted with pleasure. 

" Very good ! You'd get on splendidly ! " 

Kreisler brushed his moustaches up, sticking his 
lips out in a hard gluttonous way. Tarr watched 
him with sympathetic curiosity. 

" But — my friend told me — they're not — very 
easy ? They are great flirts. So far — and then 
boufl You are sent flying ! " 

" You would not find anything to compare with 
the facilities of your own country. But you would 
not wish for that ? " 

214 



11 No ?— But, tell me, then, they are cold !— They 
are of a calculating nature ? " 

11 They are practical, I suppose, up to a certain 
point. But you must go and see." 

Kreisler ruminated. 

" What do you find particularly attractive about 
Bertha ? " Tarr asked in a discursive way. " I ask 
you as a German. I have often wondered what a 
German would think of her." 

Kreisler looked at him with resentful uncertainty 
for a moment. 

" You want to know what I think of the Lunken ? — 
She's a sly prostitute, that's what she is ! " he 
announced loudly and challengingly. 

11 Ah ! " 

When he had given Tarr time for any possible 
demonstration, he thawed into his sociable self. He 
then added : 

" She's not a bad girl ! But she tricked you, my 
friend ! She never cared that " — he snapped his 
fingers inexpertly — " for you ! She told me so ! " 

11 Eeally ? That's interesting. — But I expect you're 
only telling lies. All Germans do ! " 

" All Germans lie ? " 

" ' Deutsches Voile — the folk that deceives ! ' is 
your philosopher Metzsche's account of the origin 
of the word Deutsch." 
' Kreisler sulked a moment till he had recovered. 

"No. We don't lie! Why should we? We're 
not afraid of the truth, so why should we?" 

" Perhaps, as a tribe, you lied to begin with, but 
have now given it up % " 

" What ? " 

" That may be the explanation of Metzsche's 
etymology. Although he seemed very stimulated at 
the idea of your national certificate of untruthfulness. 
He felt that, as a true patriot, he should react against 
your blue eyes, beer, and childish frankness." 

11 Quatseh I Metzsche was always paradoxal. He 
would say anything to amuse himself. You English 
are the greatest liars and hvpocrites on this earth ! " 

215 



<£ C 



See the Continental Press ' ! You should not 
swallow that rubbish. I only dispute your statement 
because I know it is not first-hand. What I mean 
about the Germans was that, like the Jews, they 
are extremely proud of success in deceit. No enthu- 
siasm of that sort exists in England. Hypocrisy is 
usually a selfish stupidity, rather than the result of 
cunning." 

" The English are stupid hypocrites then ! We 
agree. Prosit ! " 

" The Germans are uncouth but zealous liars ! 
Prosit ! " 

He offered Kreisler a cigarette. A pause occurred 
to allow the acuter national susceptibilities to cool. 

" You haven't yet given me your opinion of Bertha. 
You permitted yourself a truculent flourish that 
evaded the question." 

" I wish to evade the question. — I told you that 
she has tricked you. She is very malin ! She is 
tricking me now ; or she is trying to. She will not 
succeed with me ! ' When you go to take a woman 
you should be careful not to forget your whip ! ' 
That Nietzsche said too ! " 

" Are you going to give her a beating % " Tarr 
asked. 

Kreisler laughed in a ferocious and ironical manner. 

" You consider that you are being fooled, in some 
way, by Fraulein Lunken ? " 

" She would if she could. She is nothing but 
deceit. She is a snake. Pfui ! " 

" You consider her a very cunning and double- 
faced woman ? " 

Kreisler nodded sulkily. 

" With the soul of a prostitute ? " 

" She has an innocent face, like a Madonna. But 
she is a prostitute. I have the proofs of it ! " 

" In what way has she tricked me?" 

" In the way that women always trick men ! " 

With resentment partly and with hard picturesque 
levity Kreisler met Tarr's discourse. 

This solitary drinker, particularly shabby, who 
216 



could be " dismissed " so easily, whom Bertha with 
accents of sincerity, " hated, hated ! " was so different 
to the sort of man that Tarr expected might attract 
her, that he began to wonder. A certain satisfaction 
accompanied these observations. 

For that week he saw Kreisler nearly every day. 
A partie d trois then began. Bertha (whom Tarr 
saw constantly too) did not actually refuse admittance 
to Kreisler (although he usually had first to knock 
a good many times), yet she prayed him repeatedly 
not to come any more. Standing always in a droop- 
ing and desperate condition before him, she did her 
best to avert a new outburst on his part. She sought 
to mollify him as much as was consistent with the 
most absolute refusal. Tarr, unaware of how things 
actually stood, seconded his successor. 

Kreisler, on his side, was rendered obstinate by 
her often tearful refusal to have anything more what- 
ever to do with him. He had come to regard Tarr 
as part of Bertha, a sort of masculine extension of 
her. At the caf6 he would look out for him, and 
drink deeply in his presence. 

" I will have her. I will have her ! " he once 
shouted towards the end of the evening, springing 
up and calling loudly for the gargon. It was all 
Tarr could do to prevent him from going, with assur- 
ances of intercession. 

' His suspicions of Tarr at last awoke once more. 
What was the meaning of this Englishman always 
there ? What was he there for ? If it had not been 
for him, several times he would have rushed off and 
had his way. But he was always there between 
them. And in secret, too, probably, and away from 
him — Kreisler — he was working on Bertha's feelings, 
and preventing her from seeing him. Tarr was any- 
how the obstacle. And yet there he was, talking 
and palavering, and offering to act as an inter- 
mediary, and preventing him from acting. He alone 
was the obstacle, and yet he talked as though he 
were nothing to do with it, or at the most a casually 
interested third party. That is how Kreisler felt on 

217 



his way home after having drunk a good deal. But 
so long as Tarr paid for drinks he staved him off 
his prey. 



CHAPTEE V 

Tare, soon regretted this last anti-climax stage of his 
adventure. He would have left Kreisler alone in 
future, but he felt that by frequenting him he could 
save Bertha from something disagreeabe. With dis- 
quiet and misgiving every night now he sat in front 
of his Prussian friend. He watched him gradually 
imbibing enough spirits to work him up to his pitch of 
characteristic madness. 

" After all, let us hear really what it all means, 
your Kreisler stunt, and Kreisler ? " he said to her 
four or five days after his reappearance. " Do you 
know that I act as a dam, or rather a dyke, to his 
outrageous flood of liquorous spirits every night ? 
Only my insignificant form is between you and 
destruction, or you and a very unpleasant Kreisler, 
at any rate. — Have you seen him when he's drunk ? 
— What, after all, does Kreisler mean ? Satisfy my 
curiosity." 

Bertha shuddered and looked at him with dramati- 
cally wide-open eyes, as though there were no answer. 

" It's nothing, Sorbert, nothing," she said, as 
though Kreisler were the bubonic plague and she 
were making light of it. 



Yet a protest had to be made. He had rather 
neglected the coincidence of his arrival and Bertha's 
refusal to see Kreisler. He must avoid finding 
himself manoeuvred into appearing the cause. A 
tranquil and sentimental revenant was the role he 
had chosen. Up to a point he encouraged Bertha 
to see his boon companion and relax her sudden 
exclusiveness. He hesitated to carry out thoroughly 
his part of go-between and reconciler. At length he 
began to make inquiries. After all, to have to hold 

218 



back his successor to the favours of a lady, from 
going and seizing those rights (presumably temporarily 
denied him), was a strange situation. At any moment 
now it seemed likely that Kreisler would turn on 
him. This would simplify matters. Better leave 
lovers to fight out their own quarrels and not take up 
the ungrateful role of interferer and voluntary police- 
man. All his retrospective pleasure was being spoilt. 
But he was committed to remain there for the present. 
To get over his sensation of dupe, he was more sociable 
with Kreisler than he felt. The German interpreted 
this as an hypocrisy. His contempt and suspicion 
of the peculiar revenant grew. 

Bertha was tempted to explain, in as dramatic a 
manner as possible, the situation to Tarr. But she 
hesitated always because she thought it would lead 
to a fight. She was often, as it was, anxious for 
Tarr. 

" Sorbert, I think I'll go to Germany at once," she 
said to him, on the afternoon of his second visit to 
Benee Lipmann's. 

" Why, because you're afraid of Kreisler ? " 

" No, but I think it's better." 

" But why, all of a sudden ? " 

" My sister will be home from Berlin, in a day or 
two " 

" And you'd leave me here to ' mind ' the dog." 
,' " No. — Don't see Kreisler any more, Sorbert. Dog 
is the word indeed ! He is mad : ganz verucht ! — 
Promise me, Sorbert" — she took his hand — "not to 
go to the eaf£ any more ! " 

" Do you want him at your door at twelve to- 
night ? — I feel I may be playing the part of — goose- 
berry, is it ? " 

" Don't, Sorbert. If you only knew ! — He was 
here this morning, hammering for nearly half an 
hour. But all I ask you is to go to the caf6 no more. 
There is no need for you to be mixed up in all 
this. I only am to blame." 

11 1 wonder what is the real explanation of Kreisler?" 
Sorbert said, pulled up by what she had said. " Have 

219 



you known him long — before you knew me, for 
instance ? " 

" BTo, only a week or two — since you went away." 

" I must ask Kreisler. But he seems to have very 
primitive notions about himself." 

" Don't bother any more with that man, Sorbert. 
You don't do any good. Don't go to the caf6 to- 
night ! " 

" Why to-night ? " 

" Any night." 

Kreisler certainly was a " new link" — too much. 
The chief cause of separation had become an element 
of insidious rapprochement 

He left her silently apprehensive, staring at him 
mournfully. 

So that night, after his second visit to Fraulein 
Lipmann's, he did not seek out Kreisler at his usual 
headquarters with his first enthusiasm. 



CHAPTEE VI 

Already before a considerable pile of saucers, repre- 
senting his evening's menu of drink, Kreisler sat quite 
still, his eyes very bright, smiling to himself. Tarr did 
not at once ask him " what Kreisler meant." " Kreis- 
ler " looked as though it meant something a little 
different on that particular evening. He acknowledged 
Tarr's arrival slightly, seeming to include him in his 
reverie. It was a sort of silent invitation to " come 
inside." Then they sat without speaking, an unpleasant 
atmosphere of police-court romance for Tarr. 

Tarr still kept his retrospective luxury before him, 
as it maintained the Kreisler side of the business in 
a desired perspective. Anastasya, whom he had 
seen that evening, had come as a diversion. He got 
back, with her, into the sphere of " real " things 
again, not fanciful retrospective ones. 

This would be a reply to Kreisler (an Anastasya 
for your Otto) and restore the balance. At present 

220 



they were existing on a sort of three-legged affair. 
This inclusion of the fourth party would make 
things solid and less precarious again. 

To maintain his role of intermediary and go on 
momentarily keeping his eye on Kreisler's threatening 
figure, he must himself be definitely engaged in a 
new direction, beyond the suspicion of hankerings 
after his old love. 

Did he wish to enter into a new attachment with 
Anastasya ? That could be decided later. He would 
make the first steps, retain her if possible, and out 
of this charming expedient pleasant things might 
come. He was compelled to requisition her for the 
moment. She might be regarded as a travelling 
companion. Thrown together inevitably on a stage- 
coach journey, anything might happen. Delight, 
adventure, and amusement was always achieved : 
as his itch to see his humorous concubine is turned 
into a " retrospective luxury," visits to the Lipmann 
circle, mysterious relationship with Kreisler. This, 
in its turn, suddenly turning rather prickly and 
perplexing, he now, through the medium of a beau- 
tiful woman, turns it back again into fun ; not 
serious enough for Beauty, destined, therefore, 
rather for her subtle, rough, satiric sister. 

Once Anastasya had been relegated to her place 
rather of expediency, he could think of her with 
more freedom. He looked forward with gusto to 
his work in her direction. 

There would be no harm in anticipating a little. 
She might at once be brought on to the boards, as 
though the affair were already settled and ripe for 
publicity. 

" Do you know a girl called Anastasya Vasek f 
She is to be found at your German friend's, Fraulein 
Lipmann's." 

" Yes, I know her," said Kreisler, looking up with 
unwavering blankness. His introspective smile 
vanished. " What then ? " was implied in his look. 
What a fellow this Englishman was, to be sure ! 

221 



What was he after now ? Anastasya was a much 
more delicate point with him than Bertha. 

" I've just got to know her. She's a charming girl, 
isn't she ? " Tarr could not quite make out Kreisler's 
reception of these innocent remarks. 

" Is she ? " Kreisler looked at him almost with 
astonishment. 

There is a point in life beyond wilich we must 
hold people responsible for accidents and their uncon- 
sciousness. Innocence then loses its meaning. 
Beyond this point Tarr had transgressed. Whether 
Tarr knew anything or not, the essential reality was 
that Tarr was beginning to get at him with Anastasya, 
just having been for a week a problematic and officious 
figure suddenly appearing between him and his prey 
of the Eue Martine. The habit of civilized restraint 
had kept Kreisler baffled and passive for a week. 
Annoyance at Bertha's access of self-will had been 
converted into angry interest in his new self-elected 
boon companion. He had been preparing lately, 
though, to borrow money from him. Anastasya 
brought on the scene was another kettle of fish. 

What did this Tarr's proceedings say ? They said : 
" Bertha Lunken will have nothing more to do with 
you. You mustn't annoy her any more. In the 
meantime, I am getting on very well with Anastasya 
Vasek ! " 

A question that presented itself to Kreisler was 
whether Tarr had heard the whole story of his assault 
on his late fiancee ? The possibility of his knowing 
this increased his contempt for Tarr. 

Kreisler was disarmed for the moment by the 
remembrance of Anastasya. By the person he had 
regarded as peculiarly accessible becoming paradoxi- 
cally out of his reach, the most distant and inacces- 
sible — such as Anastasya — seemed to be drawn a 
little nearer. 

" Is Fraulein Vasek working in a studio ? " he 
asked. 

" She's at Serrano's, I think," Tarr told him. 
222 



11 So you go to Fraulein Liproann's ? " 

" Sometimes." 

Kreisler reflected a little. 

" I should like to see her again." 

Tarr began to scent another mysterious muddle. 
Would he never be free of Herr Kreisler ? Perhaps 
he was going to be followed and rivalled in this too ? 
With deliberate meditation Kreisler appeared to be 
coming round to Tarr's opinion. For his part too, 
Fraulein Vasek was a nice young lady. " Yes, she 
is nice ! " His manner began to suggest that Tarr 
had put her forward as a substitute for Bertha ! 

For the rest of the evening Kreisler insisted upon 
talking about Anastasya. How was she dressed ? 
Had she mentioned him ? etc. Tarr felt inclined 
to say, "But you don't understand ! She is for me. 
Bertha is your young lady now ! " Only in reflecting 
on this possible remark, he was confronted with the 
obvious reply, " But is Bertha my young lady ? " 



CHAPTEE VII 

Tare had Anastasya in solitary promenade two days 
after this. He had worked the first stage con- 
summately. He swam with ease beside his big 
hysterical black swan, seeming to guide her with 
a golden halter. They were swimming with august 
undulations of thought across the Luxembourg Gar- 
dens on this sunny and tasteful evening about four 
o'clock. The Latins and Scandinavians who strolled 
on the Latin terrace were each one a microscopic 
hero, but better turned out than the big doubtful 
heroes of 1840. 

The inviolate, constantly sprinkled and shining 
lawns by the Lyc6e Henri Trois were thickly fringed 
with a sort of seaside humanity, who sat facing them 
and their coolness as though it had been the sea. 
Leaving these upland expanses to the sedentary 
swarms of Mammas and Papas, Tarr and Anastasya 

233 



crossed over beneath the trees past the children's 
carousels grinding out their antediluvian lullabies. 

This place represented the richness of four wasted 
years. Four incredibly gushing, thick years ; what 
had happened to this delightful muck % All this 
profusion had accomplished for him was to dye the 
avenues of a Park with personal colour for the rest 
if his existence. 

No one, he was quite convinced, had squandered so 
much stuff in the neighbourhood of these terraces, 
ponds, and lawns. So this was more nearly Ms ParJc 
than it was anybody else's. He should never walk 
through it without bitter and soothing recognition 
from it. Well : that was what the Man of Action 
accomplished. In four idle years he had been, when 
most inactive, trying the man of action's job. He 
had captured a Park ! — Well ! he had spent himself 
into the Earth. The trees had his sap in them. 

He remembered a day when he had brought a book 
to the bench there, his mind tearing at it in advance, 
almost writing it in its energy. He had been full of 
such unusual faith. The streets around these gardens, 
in which he had lodged alternately, were so many 
confluents and tributaries of memory, charging it 
on all sides with defunct puissant tides. The places, 
he reflected, where childhood has been spent, or where, 
later, dreams of energy have been flung away, year 
after year, are obviously the healthiest spots for a 
person. But perhaps, although he possessed the 
Luxembourg Gardens so completely, they were com- 
pletely possessed by thousands of other people ! So 
many men had begun their childhood of ambition in 
this neighbourhood. His hopes, too, no doubt, had 
grown there more softly because of the depth and 
richness of the bed. A sentimental miasma made 
artificially in Paris a similar good atmosphere where 
the mind could healthily exist as was found by artists 
in brilliant complete and solid times. Paris was like 
a patent food. 

" Bile dit le mot, Anastase, n6 pour d'^ternels 
224 



jparchemins." He could not, however, get interested. 
Was it the obstinate Eighteenth Century animal 
vision ? When you plunge into these beings, must 
they be all quivering with unconsciousness, like life 
with a cat or a serpent ? — But her sex would throw 
clouds over her eyes. She was a woman. It was no 
good. Again he must confess Anastasya could only 
offer him something too serious. He could not play with 
that. Sex-loyalty to his most habitual lips interfered. 

He had the protective instinct that people with a 
sense of their own power have for those not equals 
with whom they have been associated. He would 
have given to Bertha the authority of his own spirit, 
to prime her with himself that she might meet on 
equal terms and vanquish any rival. He experienced 
a slight hostility to Anastasya like a part of Bertha 
left in himself protesting and jealous. It was chiefly 
vanity at the thought of this superior woman's 
contempt could she see his latest female effort. 

11 1 suppose she knows all about Bertha," he thought. 
Kreisler-like, he looked towards the Lipmann women. 
11 Homme sensuel ! Homme 6goiste ! " 

She seemed rather shy with him. 

" How do you like Paris ? " he asked her. 

" I don't know yet. Do you like it ? " She had a 
flatness in speaking English because of her education 
in the United States. 

•* I don't like to be quite so near the centre of the 
world. You can see all the machinery working. It 
makes you a natural sceptic. But here I am. I 
find it difficult to live in London." 

" 1 should have thought everything was so perfected 
here that the machinery did'not obtrude " 

" I don't feel that. I think that a place like this 
exists for the rest of the world. It works that the 
other countries may live and create. That is the 
rdle France has chosen. The French spirit seems to 
me rather spare and impoverished at present." 

" You regard it as a mother-drudge ? " 

" More of a drudge than a mother. We don't get 
much really from France, except tidiness." 

225 p 



" I expect you are ungrateful.' ' 

" Perhaps so. But I cannot get over a dislike for 
Latin facilities. Suar&s finds a northern rhetoric of 
ideas in Ibsen, for instance, exactly similar to the 
word-rhetoric of the South. But in Latin countries 
you have a democracy of vitality, the best things of 
the earth are in everybody's mouth and nerves. 
The artist has to go and find them in the crowd. You 
can't have ' freedom' both ways. I prefer the 
artist to be free, and the crowd not to be ' artists.' 
What does all English and German gush or sentiment . 
about the wonderful, the artistic French nation, etc., 
amount to ? They gush because they find thirty- 
five million little Besnards, little Botrels, little 
Bouchers, or little Bougereaus living together and 
prettifying their towns and themselves. Imagine 
England an immense garden city, on Letchworth 
lines (that is the name of a model Fabian township 
near London), or Germany (it almost has become 
that) a huge nouveau-art, reform -dressed, bestatued 
State. Practically every individual Frenchman of 
course has the filthiest taste imaginable. You are 
more astonished when you come across a sound, 
lonely, and severe artist in France than elsewhere. 
His vitality is hypnotically beset by an ocean of 
artistry. His best instinct is to become rather aggres- 
sively harsh and simple. The reason that a great 
artist like Eodin or the Cubists to-day arouse more 
fury in France than in England, for instance, is not , 
because the French are more interested in Art ! They 
are less interested in art, if anything. It is because 
they are all ' artistic ' and all artists in the sense that 
a cheap illustrator or Mr. Brangwyn, E.A., or Mr. 
Waterhouse, B.A., are. They are scandalized at good 
art ; the English are inquisitive about and tickled by 
it, like gaping children. Their social instincts are not 
so developed and logical." 

" But what difference does the attitude of the 
crowd make to the artist ? " 

" Well, we were talking about Paris, which is the 
creation of the crowd. The man thinking in these 

226 



gardens to-day, the man thinking on the quays of 
Amsterdam three centuries ago, think much the same 
thoughts. Thought is like climate and chemistry. 
It even has its physical type. But the individual's 
projection of himself he must entrust to his milieu. 
I maintain that the artist's work is nowhere so unsafe 
as in the hands of an ' artistic ' vulgarly alive public. 
The other question is his relation to the receptive 
world, and his bread and cheese. Paris is, to begin 
with, no good for bread and cheese, except as a market 
to which American and Eussian millionaire dealers 
come. Its intelligence is of great use. But no friend- 
ship is a substitute for the blood-tie ; and intelligence 
is no substitute for the response that can only come 
from the narrower recognition of your kind. This 
applies to the best type of art rather than work of 
very personal genius. Country is left behind by that. 
Intelligence also." 

" Don't you think that work of very personal 
genius often has a country ? It may break through 
accidents of birth to perfect conditions somewhere ; 
not necessarily contemporary ones or those of the 
country it happens in ? " 

" I suppose you could find a country or a time for 
almost anything. But I am sure that the best has 
in reality no Time and no Country. That is why it 
accepts without fuss any country or time for what 
they are worth ; thence the seeming contradiction, 
that it is always actual. It is alive, and nationality is 
a portion of actuality." 

11 But is the best work always ' actual ■ and up to 
date ? " 

" It always has that appearance. It's manners arc 
perfect." 

" I am not so sure that manners cannot be over- 
done. A personal code is as good as the current 
code." 

" The point seems to me to be, in that connexion, 
that manners are not very important. You use them 
as you use coins." 

" The most effectual men have always been those 
227 



whose notions were diametrically opposed to those of 
their time," she said carefully. 

" I don't think that is so ; except in so far as all 
effectual men are always the enemies of every time. 
With that fundamental divergence, they give a weight 
of impartiality to the supreme thesis and need of 
their age. Any opinion of their fellows that they 
adopt they support with the uncanny authority of 
a plea from a hostile camp. All activity on the part 
of a good mind has the stimulus of a paradox. To 
produce is the sacrifice of genius." 

They seemed to have an exotic grace to him as they 
promenaded their sinuous healthy intellects in this 
eighteenth- century landscape. There was no other 
pair of people who could talk like that on those 
terraces. They were both of them barbarians, head 
and shoulders taller than the polished stock around. 
And they were highly strung and graceful. They were 
out of place. 

" Your philosophy reminds me of Jean -Jacques," 
she said. 

" Does it ? How do you arrive at that con- 
clusion f " 

" Well, your hostility to a tidy rabble, and prefer- 
ence for a rough and uncultivated bed to build on 
brings to mind ' wild nature ' and the doctrine of the 
natural man. You want a human landscape similar 
to Jean-Jacques' rocks and water falls." 

" I see what you mean. But I also notice that the, 
temper of my theories is the exact opposite of Jean- 
Jacques'. — He raved over and poetized his wild nature 
and naturalness generally and put it forward as an 
ideal. My point of view is that it is a question of 
expediency only. I do not for a moment senti- 
mentalize crudeness. I maintain that that crude and 
unformed bed, or backing, is absolutely essential to 
maximum fineness ; just as crudity in an individual's 
composition is necessary for him to be able to create. 
There is no more absolute value in stupidity and 
formlessness than there is in dung. But they are 
just as necessary. The conditions of creation and of 

228 



■life disgust me. The birth of a work of art is as dirty 
as that of a baby. But I consider that my most 
irremediable follies have come from fastidiousness ; 
not the other thing. If you are going to work or 
peform, you must make up your mind to have dirty 
hands most part of the time. Similarly, you must 
praise chaos and filth. It is put there for you. In- 
cense is, I believe, camels' dung. When you praise, 
you do so with dung. When you see men fighting, 
robbing each other, behaving meanly or breaking 
out into violent vulgarities, you must conventionally 
clap your hands. If you have not the stomach to do 
that, you cannot be a creative artist. If people 
stopped behaving in that way, you could not be a 
creative artist." 

" So you would discourage virtue, self-sacrifice, and 
graceful behaviour ? " 

"No, praise them very much. Also praise deceit, 
lechery, and panic. Whatever a man does, praise 
him. In that way you will be acting as the artist 
does: If you are not an artist, you will not act in 
that way. An artist should be as impartial as God." 
Is God impartial ? " 

"We disintegrate. His dream is no doubt ignorant 
of our classifications." 

" Eousseau again- 



If you really want to saddle me with that Swiss, I 
will help you. My enthusiasm for art has made me 
tond of chaos. It is the artist's fate almost always to 
be exiled among the slaves. The artist who takes 
his job seriously gets his sensibility blunted. He is 
less squeamish than other people and less discrimi- 
nating." 

" He becomes in fact less of an artist ? " 
" An artist is a cold card, with a hide like a rhi- 
noceros." 

| " You are poetizing him ! But if that is so, wouldn't 
it be better to be something else ? " 

" No, I think it's about the best thing to be." 
" With his women companions, sweethearts, he is 
also apt to be undiscriminating." 

229 



" He is notorious for that ! " 

11 I think that is a pity. Then that is because I am 
a woman, and am conscious of not being a slave." 

" But then such women as you are condemned also 
to find themselves surrounded by slaves ! " 

11 Your frequentation of the abject has not caused 
you to forget one banal art ! " 

" You tempt me to abandon art. Art is the refuge 
of the shy." 

" Are you shy ? " 

" Yes." 

" You need not be." 

Her revolving hips and thudding skirts carried her 
forward with the orchestral majesty of a simple ship. 
He suddenly became conscious of the monotonous 
racket. 

At that moment the drums beat to close the gardens. 
They had dinner in a Bouillon near the Seine. They 
parted about ten o'clock. 



CHAPTEE VIII 

For the first time since his " return " Tarr found no 
Kreisler at the caf£. " I wonder what that animal's 
up to," he thought. The gargon told him that Kreisler 
had not been there at all that evening. Tarr recon- 
sidered his responsibilities. He could not return to 
Montmartre without just informing himself of Kreis- 
ler 's whereabouts and state of mind. The "obstacle " 
had been eluded. It must be transported rapidly " in 
the way " again, wherever and in whatever direction 
the sluggish stream was flowing. 

Bertha's he did not intend to go to if he could help 
it. A couple of hours at tea-time was what he had 
instituted as his day's " amount " of her company. 
Kreislefs room would be better. This he did. There 
was a light in Kreisler 's room. The window had been 
pointed out to him. This perhaps was sufficient, 
Tarr felt. He might now go home, having located 

230 



.him. Still, since he was there he would go up and 
make sure. He lighted his way up the staircase with 
matches. Arrived at the top floor he was uncertain 
at which door to knock. He chose one with a light 
beneath it and knocked. 

In a moment some one called out "Who is it? " 
Eecognizing the voice Tarr answered, and the door 
opened slowly. Kreisler was standing there in his 
shirt-sleeves, glasses on, and a brush in his hand. 

" Ah, come in," he said. 

Tarr sat down, and Kreisler went on brushing his 
hair. When he had finished he put the brush down 
quickly, turned round, and pointing to the floor said, 
in a voice suggesting that that was the first of several 
questions : 

" Why have you come here ? " 

Tarr at once saw that he had gone a step too far, 
and either shown bad calculation or chanced on his 
rival at an unfortunate time. It was felt, no doubt, 
that — acting more or less as " keeper," or check, at 
any rate — he had come to look after his charge, and 
hear why Kreisler had absented himself from the caf6. 

" Why have you come here % " Kreisler asked 
again, in an even tone, pointing again with his fore- 
finger to the centre of the floor. 

" Only to see you, of course. I thought perhaps 
you weren't well." 

" Ah, so ! I want you, my dear English friend, now 
that you are here, to explain yourself a little. Why 
do you honour me with so much of your company ? " 

" Is my company disagreeable to you % " 

" I wish to know, sir, why I have so much of it ! " 
The Deutscher-student was coming to the top. His 
voice had risen and the wind of his breath appeared 
to be making his moustaches whistle. 

"I, of course, have reasons, besides the charm of 
your society, for seeking you out." 

Tarr was sitting stretched on one of Kreisler's two 
chairs looking up frowningly. He was annoyed at 
having let himself in for this interview. Kreisler 
stood in front of him without any expression in 

231 



particular, his voice rather less guttural than usual. 
Tarr felt ill at ease at this sudden breath of storm and 
kept still with difficulty. 

" You have reasons ? You have reasons ! 
Heavens'! Outside ! Quick ! Out ! " 

There was no doubt this time that it was in earnest. 
He was intended rapidly to depart. Kreisler was 
pointing to the door. His cold grin was slightly on 
his face again, and an appearance of his hair having 
receded on his forehead and his ears gone close 
against his head warned Tarr definitely where he was. 
He got up. The absurdity in the situation he had got 
himself into chiefly worried him. He stood a moment 
in a discouraged way, as though trying to remember 
something. His desire for a row had vanished with 
the arrival of it. It had come at such an angle 
that it was difficult to say anything, and he had a 
superstition of the vanity about the marks left by 
hands, or rather his hands. 

" Will you tell me what on earth's the matter with 
you to-night ? " he asked. 

" Yes ! I don't want to be followed about by an 
underhand swine like you any longer ! By what 
devil's impudence did you come here to-night ? 
For a week I've had you in the caf6. What did you 
want with me ? If you wanted your girl back, why 
hadn't you the courage to say so % I saw you with 
another lady to-night. I'm not going to have you 
hovering and slavering around me. Be careful I don't 
come and pull your nose when I see you with that 
other lady ! You're welcome, besides, to your 
girl " 

" I recommend you to hold your mouth ! Don't 
talk about my girl. I've had enough of it. Where 
her sense was when she alighted on a specimen like 
you — " Tarr's German hesitated and suddenly 
struck, as though for the rest of the night. He had 
stepped forward with a suggestion of readiness for 
drama : 

" Heraus, schwein ! " shouted Kreisler, in a sort of 
incredulous drawling crescendo, shooting his hand 

232 



towards the door and urging his body like the cox 
of a boat. Like a sheep-dog he appeared to be collect- 
ing Tarr together and urging him out. 

Tarr stood staring doubtfully at him. 

" What " 

" Heraus ! Out ! Quicker ! Quicker ! ! Quick ! ( " 

His last word, " Schnell ! " dropped like a plummet 
to the deepest tone his throat was capable of. It was 
short and so absolutely final that the grace given, 
even after it had been uttered, for this hateful visitor 
to remove himself, was a source of astonishment to 
Tarr. For a man to be ordered out of a room that 
does not belong to him always puts him at a dis- 
advantage. Should he insist, forcibly and success- 
fully, to remain, it can only be for a limited time. He 
will have to go sooner or later, and make his exit, 
unless he establish himself there and make it his 
home henceforth ; a change of lodging most people 
are not, on the spur of the moment, prepared to decide 
on. The room, somehow, too, seems on its owner's 
side, and to be vomiting forth the intruder. The 
civilized man's instinct of ownership makes it im- 
possible for any but the most indelicate to resist a 
feeling of hesitation before the idea of resistance in 
another man's shell ! All Tarr's attitude to this man 
had been made up of a sort of comic hypocrisy. 
Neither comedy nor hypocrisy were usable for the 
moment. 

Had Tarr foreseen this possible termination of his 
rdle of " obstacle ? " And ought he, he would ask 
himself, to have gone on with this half-farce if he 
were not prepared to meet the ultimate consequences ? 
Kreisler was quite unworthy to stand there, with 
perfect reason, and to be telling him to " get out." 
It was absurd to exalt Kreisler in that way ! But 
Tarr had probably counted on being equal to any 
emergency, and baffling or turning Kreisler's violence 
in some genial manner. 

He stood for a few seconds in a tumultuous hesita- 
tion, when he saw Kreisler run across the room, bend 
forward and dive his arm down behind his box. He 

233 



watched with uncomfortable curiosity this new move, 
as one might watch a surgeon's haste at the crisis 
of an operation, searching for some necessary imple- 
ment, mislaid for the moment. He felt schoolboy - 
like, left waiting there at Kreisler's disposition. It 
was as a reaction against this unpleasant feeling that 
he stepped towards the door. The wish not to 
" obey " or to seem to turn tail either had alone kept 
him where he was. He had just found the door when 
Kreisler, with a bound, was back from his box, 
flourishing an old dog- whip in his hand. 

" Ah, you go ? Look at this ! " He cracked the whip 
once or twice. " This is what I keep for hounds like 
you ! " Crack ! He cracked it again in rather an 
inexperienced way with a certain difficulty. He 
frowned and stopped in his discourse, as though it 
had been some invention he were showing off, that 
would not quite work at the proper moment, necessi- 
tating concentration. 

" If you wish to see me again, you can always find 
me here. You won't get off so easily next time ! " 
He cracked the whip smartly and then slammed the 
door. 

Tarr could imagine him throwing it down in a corner 
of the room, and then going on with his undressing. 

When Kreisler had jumped to the doorway Tarr had 
stepped out with a half-defensive, half-threatening 
gesture and then gone on with strained slowness, 
lighting a match at the head of the stairs. He felt 
like a discomfited pub-loafer as he raised the match to 
an imaginary clay pipe rising in his mind. There was 
the ostentatious coolness of the music-hall comedian. 

The thing that had chiefly struck him in Kreisler 
under this new aspect was a kind of nimbleness, a 
pettiness in his behaviour and movements, where 
perhaps he had expected more stiffness and heroics ; 
the clown-like gibing form his anger took, a frigid 
disagreeable slyness and irony, a juvenile quickness 
and coldness. 

Tarr was extremely dissatisfied with the part he had 
played in this scene. First of all he felt he had with- 

234 



drawn too quickly at the appearance of the whip, 
although he had in fact got under way before it had 
appeared. Then, he argued, he should have stopped 
at the appearance of this instrument of disgrace. To 
stop and fight with Kreisler, what objection was there 
to that, he asked himself % A taking Kreisler too 
seriously ? But what less serious than fighting ? 
He had saved himself an unpleasantness, something 
ridiculous, merely to find himself outside Kreisler's 
door, a feeling of primitive dissatisfaction in him. 
Had he definitely been guilty of a lack of pluck or 
pride, it would have been better. 

There was something mean and improper in all this 
that he could not reason away or mistake. He had 
undoubtedly insulted this man by his attitude, 
s'en Stait fiche de lui; and when the other turned, 
whip in hand, he had walked away. What really 
should he have done ? He should, no doubt, he 
thought, having humorously instituted himself Kreis- 
ler's keeper, have humorously struggled with him, 
when the idiot became obstreperous. At that point 
his humour had stopped. Then his humour had 
limitations ? 

Once and for all and certainly : he had no right to 
treat a man as he had treated Kreisler and yet claim, 
when he turned and resented this treatment, immunity 
,from action on the score of Kreisler's idiocy. In 
allowing the physical struggle any importance he 
allowed Kreisler an importance, too, that made his 
former treatment of him unreal and unjustified. In 
Kreisler's eyes he was a blagueur, without resist- 
ance at a pinch, who walks away when turned on. 
This opinion was of no importance, since he had not a 
shadow of respect for Kreisler. Again he turned on 
himself. If he was so weak-minded as to care what 
trash like Kreisler thought or felt ! He wandered 
in the direction of the Caf6 de l'Aigle, gripped in this 
ratiocination. 

His unreadiness, his dislike for action, his fear of 
ridicule, he treated severely in turn. He thought of 
everything he could against himself. And he laughed 

235 



at himself. But it was no good. At last he gave 
way to the urgency of his vanity and determined not 
to leave the matter where it was. At once plans for 
retrieving this discomfort came crowding on him. 
He would go to the cafd as usual on the following 
evening, sit down smilingly at Kreisler's table as 
though nothing had happened. In short, he would 
altogether endorse the opinion that Kreisler had 
formed of him. And yet why this meanness, even 
assumed, Tarr asked himself, even while arranging 
realistically his to-morrow evening's purification ? 
Always in a contemptuous spirit, some belittlement or 
unsavoury r61e was suggesting itself. His contempt 
for everybody degraded him. 

Still, for a final occasion and since he was going 
this time to accept any consequences, he would 
follow his idea. He would be, to Kreisler's mind for 
a little, the strange " slaverer and hoverer " who had 
been kicked out on the previous night. He would even 
have to " pile it on thick " to be accepted at all, 
exaggerate in the direction of Kreisler's unflattering 
notion of him. Then he would gradually aggravate 
Kreisler, and with the same bonhomie attack him 
with resolution. He laughed as he came to this point, 
as a sensible old man might laugh at himself on arriv- 
ing at a similar decision. 

Soothed by the prospect of this rectification of the 
evening's blunder, Tarr once more turned to reflect 
on it, and saw more clearly than ever the parallel 
morals of his Bertha affair and his Kreisler affair. 
His sardonic dream of life got him, as a sort of 
Quixotic dreamer of inverse illusions, blows from the 
swift arms of windmills and attacks from indignant 
and perplexed mankind. He, instead of having con- 
ceived the world as more chivalrous and marvellous 
than it was, had conceived it as emptied of all dignity, 
sense, and generousness. The drovers and publicans 
were angry at not being mistaken for legendary 
chivalry or chatelaines. The very windmills resented 
not being taken for giants ! The curse of humour 
was in him, anchoring him at one end of the 

236 



see-saw whose movement and contradiction was 
life. 

Eeminded of Bertha, he did not, however, hold her 
responsible. But his protectorate would be wound 
up. Acquaintance with Anastasya would be left 
where it was, despite the threatened aggression 
against his nose. 



237 



PART VI. 
HOLOCAUSTS 

CHAPTEE I 

Tare's character at this time performed re- 
peatedly the following manoeuvre: his best energies 
would, once a farce was started, gradually take over 
the business from the play department and con- 
tinue it as a serious line of its own. It was as 
though it had not the go to initiate anything of its 
own accord. It was content to exploit the clown's 
discoveries. 

The bellicose visit to Kreisler now projected was 
launched to a slow blast of Humour, ready, when the 
time came, to turn into a storm. His contempt for 
the German would not allow him to enter into any- 
thing seriously against him. Kreisler was a joke. 
Jokes, it had to be admitted (and in that they became 
more effective than ever), were able to make you 
sweat. 

That Kreisler could be anywhere but at the Caf6 
de l'Aigle on the following evening never entered 
Tarr's head. As he was on an unpleasant errand, he 
took it for granted that Fate would on this occasion 
put everything punctually at his disposal. Had it 
been an errand of pleasure, he would have instinc- 
tively supposed the reverse. 

At ten, and at half-past, his rival had not yet 
arrived. Tarr set out to make rapidly a tour of the 
other caf^s. But Kreisler might be turning over a 

238 



new leaf. He might be going to bed, as on the 
previous evening. He must not be again sought, 
though, on his own territory. The moral disadvan- 
tage of this position, on a man's few feet of most 
intimate floor space, Tarr had clearly realized. 

The Cafe Souchet, the most frequented caf6 of the 
Quarter, entered merely in a spirit of German 
thoroughness, was, however, the one. More alert, 
and brushed up a little, Tarr thought, Kreisler was 
sitting with another man, with a bearded, naif, and 
rather pleasant face, over his coffee. No pile of 
saucers this time attended him. 

The stranger was a complication. Perhaps the 
night's affair should be put off until the conditions 
were more favourable. But Tarr's vanity was 
impatient. His wait in the original cafe had made 
him nervous and hardly capable of acting with cir- 
cumspection. On the other hand, it might come at 
once. This was an opposite complication. Kreisler 
might open hostilities on the spot. This would rob 
him of the subtle benefits to be derived from his 
gradual strategy. This must be risked. He was not 
very calm. He crudely went up to Kreisler's table 
and sat down. The feeling of the lack of aplomb in 
this action, and his disappointment at the presence 
of the other man, chased the necessary good humour 
out of his face. He had carefully preserved this expres- 
sion for some time, even walking lazily and quietly as 
if he were carrying a jug of milk. Now it vanished 
in a moment. Despite himself, he sat down opposite 
Kreisler as solemn as a judge, pale, his eyes fixed on 
the object of his activity with something like a scowl. 

But, his first absorption in his own sensations lifted 
and eased a little, he recognized that something very 
unusual was in the air. 

Kreisler and his friend were not speaking or 
doing anything visibly. They were just sitting still, 
two self-possessed malefactors. Nevertheless, Tarr's 
arrival to all appearance disturbed and even startled 
them, as if they had been completely wrapped up in 
some engrossing game or conspiracy. 

239 



Kreisler had his eyes trained across the room. The 
other man, too, was turned slightly in that direction, 
although his eyes followed the tapping of his boot 
against the ironwork of the table, and he only looked 
up occasionally. 

Kreisler turned round, stared at Tarr without at 
once taking in who it was ; then, as though saying to 
himself, " It's only Bertha's Englishman," he took 
up his former wilful and patient attitude, his eyes 
fixed. 

Tarr had grinned a little as Kreisler turned his way, 
rescued from his solemnity. There was just a per- 
ceptible twist in the German's neck and shade of 
expression that would have said " Ah, there you are ? 
Well, be quiet, we're having some fun. Just you 
wait ! " 

But Tarr was so busy with his own feelings that he 
didn't understand this message. He wondered if he 
had been seen by Kreisler in the distance, and if this 
reception had been concerted between him and his 
friend. If so, why ? 

Sitting, as he was, with his back to the room, he 
stared at his neighbour. His late boon companion 
distinctly was waiting, with absurd patience, for 
something. The poise of his head, the set of his 
yellow Prussian jaw, were truculent, although other- 
wise he was peaceful and attentive. His collar 
looked new rather than clean. His necktie was one 
not familiar to Tarr. Boots shone impassibly under 
the table. 

Tarr screwed his chair sideways, and faced the 
room. It was full of people — very athletically 
dressed American men, all the varieties of the pro- 
vincial in American women, powdering their noses 
and ogling Turks, or sitting, the younger ones, with 
blameless interest and fine complexions. And there 
were plenty of Turks, Mexicans, Eussians and other 
" types " for the American ladies ! In the wide 
passage-way into the further rooms sat the orchestra, 
playing the " Moonlight Sonata," Dvorak and the 
" Machiche." 

240 



In the middle of the room, at Tarr's back, he now 
saw a group of eight or ten young men whom he had 
seen occasionally in the Caf6 Berne. They looked 
rather German, but smoother and more vivacious. 
Poles or Austrians, then ? Two or three of them 
appeared to be amusing themselves at his expense. 
Had they noticed the little drama that he was con- 
ducting at his table ? Were they friends of Kreisler's, 
too ! — He was incapable of working anything out. 
He flushed and felt far more like beginning on them 
than on his complicated idiot of a neighbour, who 
had become a cold task. This genuine feeling 
illuminated for him the tired frigidity of his present 
employment. 

He had moved his chair a little to the right, towards 
the group at his back, and more in front of Kreisler, 
so that he could look into his face. On turning back 
now, and comparing the directions of the various pairs 
of eyes engaged, he at length concluded that he was 
without the sphere of interest ; just without it. 

At this moment Kreisler sprang up. His head was 
thrust forward, his hands were in rear, partly clenched 
and partly facilitating his passage between the tables 
by hemming in his coat tails. The smooth round 
cloth at the top of his back, his smooth head above 
that with no back to it, struck Tarr in the way a 
momentary smell of sweat would. Germans had no 
backs to them, or were like polished pebbles behind. 
Tarr mechanically moved his hand upwards from his 
lap to the edge of the table on the way to ward off a 
blow. He was dazed by all the details of this meeting, 
and the peculiar miscarriage of his plan. 

But Kreisler brushed past him with the swift deft- 
ness of a person absorbed with some strong movement 
of the will. The next moment Tarr saw the party of 
young men he had been observing in a sort of noisy 
blur of commotion. Kreisler was in among them, 
working on something in their midst. There were 
two blows — smack — smack; an interval between 
them. He could not see who had received them. 

Tarr then heard Kreisler shout in German : 

241 q 



" For the second time to-day ! Is your courage so 
slow that I must do it a third time f " 

Conversation had stopped in the caf6 and every- 
body was standing. The companions of the man 
smacked, too, had risen in their seats. They were 
expostulating in three languages. Several were mixed 
up with the gargons, who had rushed up to do their 
usual police work on such occasions. Over Kreisler's 
shoulder, his eyes carbonized to a black sweetness, his 
cheeks a sweet sallow-white, with a red mark where 
Kreisler's hand had been, Tajr saw the man his 
German friend had singled out. He had sprung 
towards the aggressor, but by that time Kreisler had 
been seized from behind and was being hustled 
towards the door. The blow seemed to hurt his 
vanity so much that he was standing half-conscious 
till the pain abated. He seemed to wish to brush the 
blow off, but was too vain to raise his hands to his 
cheek. It was left there like a scorching compress. 
His friends, Kreisler wrenched away from them, were 
left standing in a group, in attitudes more or less of 
violent expostulation and excitement. 

Kreisler receded in the midst of a band of waiters 
towards the door. He was resisting and protesting, 
but not too much to retard his quick exit. The 
gargons had the self-conscious unconcern of civilian 
braves. 

The young man attacked and his friends were 
explaining what had happened, next, to the manager 
of the cafe. A gargon brought in a card on a plate. 
There was a new outburst of protest and contempt 
from the others. The plate was presented to the 
individual chiefly concerned, who brushed it away, as 
though he had been refusing a dish that a waiter was, 
for some reason, pressing upon him. Then suddenly 
he took up the card, tore it in half, and again waived 
away the persistent platter. The gargon looked at 
the manager of the caf6 and then returned to the 
door. 

So this was what Kreisler and the little bearded 
242 



man had been so busy about ! Kreisler had laid his 
plans for the evening as well ! Tarr's scheme was 
destined not to be realized ; unless he followed 
Kreisler at once, and got up a second row, a more 
good-natured one, just outside the caf6 ? Should he 
go out now and punch Kreisler's head, fight about a 
little bit, and then depart, his business done, and 
leave Kreisler to go on with his other row ? For he 
felt that Kreisler intended making an evening of it. 
His companion bad not taken part in the fracas, but 
had followed on his heels in his ejection, protesting 
with a vehemence that was intended to hypnotize. 

Just at the moment when he had felt that he was 
going to be one of the principal parties to a violent 
scene, Tarr had witnessed, not himself at all, but 
another man snatched up into his role. He felt 
relieved. As he watched the man Kreisler had struck, 
he seemed to be watching himself. And yet he felt 
rather on the side of Kreisler. With a mortified 
chuckle he prepared to pay for his drink and be off, 
leaving Kreisler for ever to his very complicated, 
mysterious and turbulent existence. He noticed just 
then that Kreisler's friend had come back again, and 
was talking to the man who had been struck. He 
could hear that they were speaking Eussian or Polish. 
With great collectedness, Kreisler's emissary, evi- 
dently, was meeting their noisy expostulations. He 
could not at least, like a card, be torn in half ! On 
the other hand, in his person he embodied the re- 
spectability of a visiting card. He was dressed with 
perfect " correctness " suitable to such occasions and 
such missions as his appeared to be. By his gestures 
(one of which was the taking an imaginary card 
between his thumb and forefinger and tearing it) Tarr 
could follow a little what he was saying. 

" That, sir," he seemed to assert, " is not the way 
to treat a gentleman. That, too, is an insult no 
gentleman will support." He pointed towards the 
door. " Herr Kreisler, as you know, cannot enter the 
cafe ; he is waiting there for your reply. He has 
been turned out like a drunken workman." 

243 



The Eussian was as grave as he was collected, and 
stood in front of the other principal in this affair, who 
had sat down again now, with the evident deter- 
mination to get a different reply. The talking went 
on for some time. Then he turned towards Tarr, and, 
seeing him watching the discussion, came towards 
him, raising his hat. He said in French : 

" You know Herr Kreisler, I believe. Will you 
consent to act for him with me, in an affair that 

unfortunately ? If you would step over here, I 

will put you ' au courant.' " 

" I'm afraid I cannot act for Herr Kreisler, as I am 
leaving Paris early to-morrow morning," Tarr replied. 

But the Eussian displayed the same persistence 
with him as he had observed him already capable of 
with the other people. 

At last Tarr said, " I don't mind acting temporarily 
for a few minutes, now, until you can find somebody 
else. But you must understand that I cannot delay 
my journey — you must find a substitute at once." 

The Eussian explained with business-like gusto and 
precision, having drawn him towards the door 
(seemingly to cut off a possible retreat of the enemy), 
that it was a grave affair. Kreisler' s honour was 
compromised. His friend Otto Kreisler had been 
provoked in an extraordinary fashion. Stories had 
been put about concerning him, affecting seriously the 
sentiments of a girl he knew regarding him ; put 
about with that object by another gentleman, also 
acquainted with this girl. The Eussian luxuriated 
emphatically on this point. Tarr suggested that they 
should settle the matter at once, as he had not very 
much time. He was puzzled. Surely the girl men- 
tioned must be Bertha % If so, had Bertha been 
telling more fibs ? Was the Kreisler mystery after 
all to her discredit ? Perhaps he was now in the 
presence of another rival, existing, unknown to him, 
even during his friendship with her. 

In this heroic, very solemnly official atmosphere of 
ladies' "honour" and the "honour" of gentlemen, 
that the little Eussian was creating, Tarr unwillingly 

244 



remained for some time. Noisy bursts of protest from 
other members of the opposing party met the Eussian's 
points. " It was all nonsense ; " they shouted ; 
" there could be no question of honour here. 
Kreisler was a quarrelsome German. He was drunk." 
Tarr liked his own farces. But to be drawn into 
the service of one of Kreisler' s was a humiliation. 
Kreisler, without taking any notice of him, had 
turned the tables. 

The discussion was interminable. They were now 
speaking French. The entire caf6 appeared to be 
participating. Several times the principal on the 
other side attempted to go, evidently very cross at 
the noisy scene. Then Anastasya's name was men- 
tioned. Tarr found new interest in the scene. 

" You and Herr Kreisler," the Eussian was saying 
patiently and distinctly, " exchanged blows, I under- 
stand, this afternoon, before this lady. This was as 
a result of my friend Herr Kreisler demanding certain 
explanations from you which you refused to give. 
These explanations had reference to certain stories 
you are supposed to have circulated as regards him." 

" Circulated — as regards — that chimpanzee you are 
conducting about ? " 

11 If you please ! By being abusive you cannot 
escape. You are accused by my friend of having at 
'his expense " 

" Expense ? Does he want money ! " 

" If you please ! You cannot buy off Herr Kreisler ; 
but he might be willing for you to pay a substitute 
if you find it — inconvenient- 



I find you, bearded idiot ! " 

" We can settle all that afterwards. You understand 
me! I shall be quite ready ! But at present it is 
the affair between you and Herr Kreisler " 

In brief, it was the hapless Soltyk that Kreisler had 
eventually got hold of, and had just now publicly 
smacked, having some hours before smacked him 
privately. 



245 



CHAPTEE II 

Kreisler's afternoon encounter with Anastasya and 
Soltyk had resembled Tarr's meeting with him and 
Bertha. Kreisler had seen Anastasya and his new 
cafe friend one day from his window. His reference 
to possible nose-pulling was accounted for by this. 
The next day he had felt rather like seeing Anastasya 
again somewhere. With this object, he had patrolled 
the neighbourhood. About four o'clock, having just 
bought some cigarettes at the " Berne," he was 
standing outside considering a walk in the Luxemburg, 
when Fraulein Vasek appeared in this unshunnable 
circus of the Quartier du Paradis. Soltyk was with 
her. He went over at once. With urbane timidity, 
as though they had been alone, he offered his hand. 
She looked at Soltyk, smiling. But she showed no 
particular signs of wanting to escape. They began 
strolling along the Boulevard, Soltyk showing every 
sign of impatience. She then stopped. 

" Mr. Soltyk and I were just going to have the 
' five o'clock ' somewhere," she said. 

Soltyk looked pointedly down the Boulevard, as 
though that had been an improper piece of information 
to communicate to Kreisler. 

" If you consent to my accompanying you, Fraulein, 
it would give me the greatest pleasure to remain in 
your company a little longer." 

She laughed. "Where were we going, Louis? 
Didn't you say there was a place near here ? " 

" There is one over there. But I'm afraid, Fraulein 
Vasek, I must leave you. — I have " 

" Oh, must you ? I'm sorry." 

Soltyk was astonished and mortified. He did not 
go, looking at her doubtfully. At this point Kreisler 
had addressed him. 

" I said nothing, sir, when a moment ago, you 
failed to return my salute. I understand you were 
going to have tea with Fraulein Vasek. Now you 
deprive her suddenly of the pleasure of your company. 

246 



So there is no further doubt on a certain point. Will 
you tell me at once and clearly what objection you 
have to me ! " 

" I don't wish to discuss things of that sort before 
this lady." 

" Will you then name a place where they may be 
discussed ? I will then take my leave ? " 

"I see no necessity to discuss anything with you." 

"Ah, you see none. I do. And perhaps it is as 
well that Fraulein Vasek should hear. Will you 
explain to me, sir, how it is that you have been 
putting stories about having reference to me, and to 
my discredit, calculated to prejudice people against 
me ? Since this lady no doubt has heard some of 
your lies, it would be of advantage that you take 
them back at once, or else explain yourself." 

Before Kreisler had finished, Soltyk said to Anas- 
tasya, " I had better go at once, to save you this — " 
Then he turned to Kreisler, 

" I should have thought you would have had 
sufficient decency left " 

"Decency, liar? Decency, lying swine ? De- 
cency — ? What do you mean ? " said Kreisler, 
loudly, in crescendo. 

Then he crossed quickly over in front of Anastasya 
and smacked Soltyk first smartly on one cheek and 
,then on the other. 

11 There is liar branded on both your cheeks ! And 
if you should not wish to have coward added to your 
other epithets, you or your friends will find me at the 
following address before the day is out." Kreisler 
produced a card and handed it to Soltyk. 

Soltyk stared at him, paralysed for the moment at 
this outrage, his eyes burning with the sweet intensity 
Tarr noticed that evening, taking in the incredible 
fact. He got the fact at last. He lifted his cane 
and brought it down on Kreisler' s shoulders. Kreisler 
snatched it from him, broke it in three and flung it in 
his face, one of the splinters making a little gash in 
his under lip. 

Anastasya had turned round and begun walking 
247 



away, leaving them alone. Kreisler also waited no 
longer, but marched rapidly off in the other direc- 
tion. 

Soltyk caught Anastasya up, and apologized for 
what had occurred, dabbing his lip with a handker- 
chief. 

Kreisler after this felt himself fairly launched on a 
satisfactory little affair. Many an old talent would 
come in useful. He acted for the rest of the day with 
a gusto of professional interest. For an hour or two 
he stayed at home. No one came, however, to call 
him to account. Leaving word that he would soon 
be back, he left in search of a man to act for him. He 
remembered a Eussian he had had some talk with at 
the Studio, and whom he had once visited. He was 
celebrated for having had a duel and blinded his 
opponent. His instinct now led him to this individual, 
who has already been seen in action. His qualifica- 
tions for a second were quite unique. 

Kreisler found him just finishing work. He had 
soon explained what he required of him. With great 
gravity he set forth his attachment for a " beautiful 
girl," the discreditable behaviour of the Eussian in 
seeking to prejudice her against him. In fact, he 
gave an entirely false picture of the whole situation. 
His honour must now be satisfied. He would accept 
nothing less than reparation by arms. Such was 
Kreisler, but he was himself very cynically. He had 
explained this to Volker after the following manner : 
" I am a hundred different things ; I am as many 
people as the different types of people I have lived 
amongst. I am a ' Boulevardier ' (he believed that 
on occasion he answered fully to that description), 
I am a ' Eapin ' ; I am also a ' Korps-student.' " 

In his account of how things stood he had, besides, 
led the Eussian to understand that there was more in 
it all than it was necessary to say, and, in fact, than 
he could say. Whatever attitude Soltyk might take 
up, this gentleman too knew, he hinted, that they 
had come to the point in their respective relations 
towards this " beautiful girl " at which one of them 

248 



must disappear. In addition, he, Kreisler, had been 
grossly insulted in the very presence of the " beautiful 
girl " that afternoon. The Eussian's compatriot had 
used his cane. These latter were facts that would be 
confirmed later, for the physical facts at least could 
not be got round by Soltyk. 

The Eussian, Bitzenko by name, a solemnly 
excitable bourgeois of Petrograd, recognized a situa- 
tion after his own heart. Excitement was a food he 
seldom got in such quantities, and pretending to listen 
to Kreisler a little abstractedly and uncertainly to 
start with, he was really from the first very much his 
man. 

So Kreisler and his newly found henchman, silently 
and intently engaged on their evening's business, have 
been accounted for. Soltyk had been discovered 
some quarter of an hour before Tarr's appearance, and 
stared out of countenance for the whole of the time 
by Kreisler. 



CHAPTEE III 

The indignation and flurry subsided ; but the child 
of this eruption remained. The Polish party found 
/the legacy of the uproar as cold as its cause had been 
hot. Bitzenko inspired respect as he scratched his 
beard, which smelt of Turkish tobacco, and wrinkled 
up imperturbably small grey eyes. 

Then, the excitement over, the red mark on Soltyk's 
cheek became merely a fact. One or two of his 
friends found themselves examining it obliquely, as 
a relic, with curiosity. 

He had had his face smacked earlier in the day, 
as well. How much longer was his face going to go 
on being smacked ? Here was this Eussian still 
there. There was the chance of an affair. A duel — 
a duel, for a change, in our civilized life ; &4tait 
une idee. 

Who was the girl the Eussian kept mentioning ? 
249 



Was she that girl he had been telling them about who 
had a man-servant ? Kreisler was a Frei-Herr ? 
The Bussian had referred to him as " my friend the 
Frei-Herr." 

" Herr Kreisler does not wish to take further 
measures to ensure himself some form of satisfaction," 
the Eussian said monotonously. 

" There is always the police for drunken black- 
guards," Soltyk answered. 

" If you please ! That is not the way ! It is not 
usually so difficult to obtain satisfaction from a 
gentleman." 

" But then I am not a gentleman in the sense that 
your friend Kreisler is." 

" Perhaps not, but a blow on the face " 

The little Eussian said " blow on the face " in a 
soft inviting way, as though it were a titbit with 
powers of fascination of its own. 

" But it is most improper to ask me to stand here 
wrangling with you," he next said. 

" You please yourself." 

" I am merely serving my friend Herr Kreisler. 
Will you oblige me by indicating a friend of yours 
with whom I can discuss this matter ? " 

The waiter who had brought in the card again 
approached their table. This time he presented 
Soltyk with a note, written on the caf£ paper and 
folded in four. 

Tarr had been watching what was going on with 
as much interest as his ruffled personal dignity would 
allow him to take. He did not believe in a duel. 
But he wondered what would happen, for he was 
certain that Kreisler would not let this man alone 
until something had happened. What would he have 
done, he asked himself, in Soltyk's place ? He would 
have naturally refused to consider the idea of a duel 
as a possibility. If you had to fight a duel with 
any man who liked to hit you on the head — Kreisler, 
moreover, was not a man with whom a duel need be 
fought. He was in a weak position in that way, in 
spite of the additional blacking on his boots. Tarr 

250 



himself, of course, could have taken refuge in the 
fact that Englishmen do not duel. But what would 
have been the next step, this settled, had he been in 
Soltyk's shoes ? Kreisler was waiting at the door of 
the caf6. If his enemy got up and went out, at the 
door he would once more have his face smacked. 
His knowledge of Kreisler convinced him that that 
face would be smacked all over the quartier, at all 
hours of the day, for many days to come. Kreisler, 
unless physically overwhelmed, would smack it in 
public and in private until further notice. He would 
probably spit in it, after having smacked it, occa- 
sionally. So Kreisler must be henceforth fought by 
his victim wherever met. Would this state of things 
justify the use of a revolver ? No. Kreisler should 
be maimed. It all should be prepared with great 
thoroughness ; exactly the weight of stick, etc. The 
French laws would allow quite a bad wound. But 
Tarr felt that the sympathetic young Prussian -Pole 
would soon have Bitzenko on his hands as well. 
Bitzenko was very alarming. 

Kreisler, although evicted from the cafe, had been 
allowed by the waiters to take up his position on a 
distant portion of the terrace. There he sat with his 
legs crossed and his eye fixed on the door with a 
Scottish solemnity. He was an object of considerable 
admiration to the gargons. His coolness and persis- 
tence appeared to them amusing and typical. His 
solemnity aroused their wonder and respect. He 
meant business. He was behaving correctly. 

Soltyk opened the note at once. 

On it was written in German : 

" To the cad Soltyk 
" If you make any more trouble about appoint- 
ing seconds, and delay the gentlemen who have 
consented to act for me, I shall wait for you at 
the door and try some further means of rousing 
you to honourable action." 

A little man sitting next to Soltyk with an eloquent, 
8leek lawyer's face took the letter as though it had 

251 



been a public document and read it. He bent 
towards his friend and said : 

" What is really the matter with this gentleman % " 

Soltyk shrugged his shoulders. 

" He's a brute, and he is a little crazy as well. He 
wants to pick a quarrel with me, I don't know why." 

" He means trouble. Doesn't he want to be taken 
seriously, only ? Let his shaggy friend here have a 
chat with a friend of yours. He may be a nuisance — " 

" What rot ! Why should one/ Stephen % If he 
comes for me at the door, let him ! I wish that little 
man there would go away. He has annoyed us 
quite enough." 

" Louis, will you give me permission to speak to 
him on your behalf ! " 

" If that will give you any satisfaction." 

Stephen (Staretsky) got up and put himself at 
Bitzenko's disposition. The whole party became 
tumultuous at this. 

" What the devil are you up to, Stephen ? Let 
them alone." 

" You're not going ? " 

" Tell them to go to heU ! " 

" Stephen, come back, you silly fool ! " 

Stephen Staretsky smiled at this with a sort of 
worldly indulgence. "You don't understand. This 
is the best thing to do," he seemed to say. 

" Do you want this to last the whole evening % " he 
asked the man nearest him. 

He followed Bitzenko out, and Tarr followed 
Bitzenko. 



CHAPTEE IV 

They went over to a small, gaudy, quiet cafe oppo- 
site, Kreisler watching them, but still with his eye 
on the door near at hand. 

Tarr was amused now at his position of dummy. 
He enjoyed crossing the road under Kreisler's eye, 
in his service. The evening's twists were very comic. 

252 



Imaginative people are easy to convince of the 
naturalness of anything ; and the Eussian was the 
prophet of the necessity of this affair. Stephen was 
not convinced ; but he soon made up his mind that 
Bitzenko was either Kreisler's accomplice in some 
scheme or at least had made up his mind that there 
could only be one ending to the matter. 

He went back to the cafd and, sitting down beside 
Soltyk again, said : 

" I'm afraid I was mistaken, Louis. Your German 
means to fight you or else he has some little game. 
If you're sure there's nothing in it, you must tell him 
and his little Eussian to go to the devil." 

While Stephen Staretsky had been away one of 
Soltyk's friends told them about Bitzenko. 

" Don't you know him, Louis ! Maiewski used to 
know him. He lives in one of those big studios, Eue 
TJlm, near the Invalides. II a du pognon, il parait." 

Soltyk began patting his cheek gently. But his 
vanity ached steadily inside. 

" What is his name ? " asked another. 

" Bitzenko. He once had a duel and blinded a 
man." 

Soltyk looked up and stopped patting his cheek. 

" How ? Blinded him ? " somebody asked. 

" Yes, blinded him." 
■ The blows began to take effect, the atmosphere 
becoming somehow congenial to them. When Stephen 
Staretsky delivered his message Soltyk was losing 
his self-control. The opportunity of killing this 
obnoxious figure offered him so obstinately by 
Bitzenko — whom he disliked even more — began to 
recommend itself to him. This commis voyageur sent 
to press the attractions of destruction had won his 
point. 

Soltyk had been silent. He had been twisting up 
the corners of a newspaper on the table before him, 
and appeared struck lazy, into a kind of sullen 
sleepiness and detachment resembling despair. 

" Ask him," he said suddenly to Staretsky, " what 
he wants." 

253 



" What do you mean ? " 

Soltyk answered irritably, " Why, what they want : 
what sort of a duel he wants and when." " Duel " 
was said as though it were a common object. " Settle 
it quickly and let's get all this nonsense over, since 
you have begun negotiations." 

Stephen Staretsky stared at him. 

" You don't mean — ! I have not been negotiating. 
I simply " 

The others once more clamoured, after a moment 
of astonishment. 

" You don't mean to say, Louis, you're go- 
ing ? " 

" What nonsense, what utter nonsense ! What can 
you be thinking of ? " 

" If Bitzenko comes in again, pay no attention to 
him ! What possesses you, Louis ! Whatever 
possesses you, Louis ! " 

Soltyk looked angrily at his friends without replying. 

" Staretsky, arrange that, do you mind t " he 
said when the exclamations stopped. " But for 
Heaven's sake get it finished quickly. This is 
becoming boring." 

Staretsky said, leaning on the back of Soltyk's 
chair, with authority : 

" Don't be absurd, Louis : don't be absurd. You 
must refuse to listen to him. All that rot about 
libelling and the ' beautiful girl ' : my God, man, 
you're not going to take that seriously ? " 

" Of course not. But I shall fight the German 
clown. I want to. This is becoming ridiculous." 

Soltyk had made up his mind. He would never 
have armed himself and shot Kreisler in the street. 
That would have been too ridiculous. It would have 
had the touch of passion and intimacy of a crime 
passionel. It would only have been dignified for an 
inhabitant of Nevada. 

He did not regard this as a duel, but a brawl, ordered 
by the rules of " affairs of honour." If a drunken 
man or an apache attacked you the best thing to do 
would be to fight. If he offered to " fight you fair " 

254 



— putting it in that way — then that would be the best 
thing, too, no doubt. 

But Bitzenko really had brought him to this. 
Kreisler alone could never have hoped to compass 
anything approaching a duel with him. 

Stephen Staretsky overwhelmed him with expostu- 
lation — even reproaches. His voice rose and fell in 
a microscopic stream of close -packed sound. His 
face became shiny and the veins appeared in it. He 
begged Soltyk to think of his friends ! He gathered 
his arguments up in the tips of his fingers in little 
nervous bunches and held them under his friend's 
nose, as though asking him to smell them. And then, 
with a spasm of the body, a vibrating twang on some 
deep chord in his throat, he dashed his gathered fingers 
towards the floor. 

In face of this attack it was impossible, even had 
he wished to do so, for Soltyk to reconsider his 
decision. The others, too, sat for the most part 
watching him. 

Bitzenko appeared again. Soltyk became pale at 
the sight of this sinister figure, so bourgeois, pre- 
possessing, and bearded, with its legend of blindings 
and blood and uncanny tenacity as a second. 

He turned to a good-looking, sleek, sallow com- 
panion at his elbow. 

11 Khudin, will you act for me, as Stephen won't t " 

Stephen Staretsky rose. A superfine sw^eat mois- 
tened his skin. His extraordinary volubility was 
tucked away somewhere in him in a flash, in a satisfied 
and polished acrobatic, and he faced the Eussian. 
Khudin rose at the same time. Bitzenko had won. 

Tarr was astonished at the rapid tragic trend of 
these farcical negotiations. 

" How angry that man must be to do that," he 
thought. But he had not been smacked the evening 
before ; yet he remembered he had been passably 
angry. 



255 



CHAPTEE V 

Otto Kreisler, when he had entered the Caf6 
Souchet, had been anxious. His eyes had picked 
out Soltyk in a delicate flurry. He had been 
afraid that he might escape him. Soltyk looked so 
securely bedded in life, and he wanted to wrench 
him out. He was not at all bad-tempered at the 
moment. He would have extracted him quite 
" painlessly " if required. But bleeding and from the 
roots, he must come out ! (Br-r-rr. The Bersaker 
rage !) 

He was quite quiet and well-behaved ; above all 
things, well-behaved ! The mood he had happened on 
for this particular phase of his action was a virulent 
snobbery. He was a painful and blushing snob ! 
He had, at his last public appearance, taken the r61e 
of a tramp-comedian. He had invited every descrip- 
tion of slight and indignity. The world seemed to 
wish to perpetuate this part for him. But he would 
not play ! He refused ! A hundred times, he refused! 

He remembered with eagerness that he was a 
German gentleman, with a university education ; who 
had never worked ; a member of an honourable family I 
He remembered each detail socially to his advantage, 
realizing methodically things he had from childhood 
accepted and never thought of examining. But he 
had gone a step further. He had arbitrarily revived 
the title of Frei-Herr that, it was rumoured in his 
family, his ancestors had borne. With Bitzenko he 
had referred to himself as the Frei-Herr Otto Kreisler. 
Had the occasion allowed, he would have been very 
courteous and gentle with Soltyk, merely to prove 
what a gentleman he was ! But, alas, nothing but 
brutality (against the grain — the noble grain — as this 
went !) would achieve his end. 

And the end was still paramount. His snobbery 
was the outcome of this end, of his end. It was, 
in this obsession of disused and disappearing life, 
the wild assertion of vitality, the clamour for recog- 

256 



nition that life and the beloved self were still there, 
that brought out the reeking and brand-new snob. 
He was almost dead (he had promised his father his 
body for next month, and must be punctual), but 
people already had begun treading on him and striking 
matches on his boots. As to fighting with a man 
who was practically dead, to all intents and purposes, 
one mass of worms— a worm, in short— that was not 
to be expected of anybody. 
So he became a violent snob. 

It was Soltyk's rude behaviour on the day before 
m the presence of Anastasya that had set him raving 
on this subject. The Eussian Pole was up against a 
raving snob whose social dignity he had wounded. 

Bitzenko and Kreisler came out to get Louis Soltyk 
like two madmen, full of solemn method and with 
miraculous solidarity. Their schemes and energies 
flew direct from mind to mind, without the need for 
words. Bitzenko with his own hand had brushed 
the back of Kreisler's coat ; on tiptoe doing this 
he looked particularly childlike. They were together 
there in Kreisler's room before they started like two 
little boys dressing up in preparation for some mischief. 
Kreisler had fixed his eyes on Soltyk from his table 
with alert offensiveness. The prosperous appearance 
of the Poles annoyed him deeply. Their watches 
were all there, silk handkerchiefs slipped up their 
sleeves ; they looked sleek and new. A gentle flame 
of social security and ease danced in their eyes and 
gestures. He was out in the dark, they were in a 
lighted room ! He wished their fathers' affairs might 
deteriorate and their fortunes fall to pieces ; that 
their watches could be stolen, and their restaurant- 
tick attacked by insidious reports ! And as he 
watched them he felt more and more an outcast, 
shabbier and shabbier. He saw himself the little 
official in a German provincial town that his father's 
letter foreshadowed. 

J One or two of them pointed him out to Soltyk, and 
it was a wounding laugh of the latter's that brought 
him to his feet. 

257 B 



As he was slapping his enemy he woke up out of 
his nightmare. He was like a sleeper having the first 
inkling of his solitude when he is woken by the climax 
of his dream, still surrounded by tenacious influences. 
But had any one struck him then, the blow would 
have had as little effect as a blow aimed at a waking 
man by a phantom of his sleep. The noise around 
him was a receding accompaniment. 

Then he felt hypnotized by Soltyk's quietness. 
The sweet white of the face made him sick. To. 
overcome this he stepped forward again to strike 
the dummy once more, and then it moved suddenly. 
As he raised his hand his glasses almost slipped off, 
and at that point he was seized by the g argons. 
Hurried out on to the pavement, he could still see, 
at the bottom of a huge placid mirror just inside the 
cafe, the wriggling backs of the band of Poles. Drawing 
out his card-case, he had handed the waiter a visiting- 
card. The waiter at first refused it. He turned his 
head aside vaguely, as a dog does when doubtful 
about some morsel offered him ; then he took it. 
Kreisler saw in the mirror the tearing up of his card. 
Fury once more — not so much because it was a new 
slight as that he feared his only hope, Soltyk, might 
escape him. 

The worry of this hour or so in which Bitzenko 
was negotiating told on him so much that when at 
last his emissary announced that an arrangement . 
had been come to in the sense he wished, he questioned 
him incredulously. He felt hardly any satisfaction, 
reaction setting in immediately. 

Bitzenko went back to Kreisler's door with him 
and, promising to return within half an hour, left 
him. Tarr having, as he had stipulated, left when 
the talking was over, Bitzenko first went in search 
of a friend to serve as second. The man he decided 
on was already in bed, and at once, half asleep, 
without preparation of any sort, consented to do 
what was asked of him. 

" Will you be a second in a duel to-morrow morning 
at half -past six ? " 

258 



" Yes." 

"At half -past six? " 

" Yes." And after a minute or two, " Is it you ? " 

M No, a German friend of mine." 

M All right." 

" You will have to get up at five." 

Bitzenko's friend was a tail, powerfully built young 
Eussian painter, who, with his great bow-legs, would 
take up some straggling and extravagantly twisted 
pose of the body and remain immobile for minutes 
together, with an air of ridiculous detachment. This 
combination of a tortured, restless attitude, and at 
the same time statuesque tendency, suggested some- 
thing like a contemplative acrobat or contortionist. 
A mouth of almost anguished attention and little calm 
indifferent eyes, produced similar results in the face. 

Bitzenko's next move was to go to his rooms, put 
a gently ticking little clock, with an enormous alarum 
on the top, under his arm, and then walk round once 
more to Otto Kreisler's. He informed his friend of 
these last arrangements made in his interests. He 
suggested that it would be better for him to sleep 
there that night, to save time in the morning. In 
short, he attached himself to Kreisler's person. Until 
it were deposited in the large cemetery near by, or 
else departed from the Gare du Nord in a deal box 
for burial in Germany, it should not leave him. In 
the event of victory, and he being no longer respon- 
sible for it, it should disappear as best it could. 
The possible subsequent conflict with the police was 
not without charm for Bitzenko. He regarded the 
police force, its functions and existence, as a pretext 
for adventure. 

The light was blown out. Bitzenko curled himself 
up on the floor. He insisted on this. Kreisler must 
be fresh in the morning and do him justice. The 
Eussian could hear the bed shaking for some time. 
Kreisler was trembling violently. A sort of exulta- 
tion at the thought of his success caused this nervous 
attack. He had been quite passive since he had heard 
that all was well. 

259 



At about half-past four in the morning Kreisler 
was dreaming of Volker and a pact he had made with 
him in his sleep never to divulge some secret, which 
there was never any possibility of his doing in any case, 
as he had completely forgotten what it was. He was 
almost annihilated by a terrific explosion. With his 
eyes suddenly wide open, he saw the little clock 
quivering in the mantelpiece beneath its large alarum. 
When it had stopped Kreisler could hardly believe 
his ears, as though this sound had been going to 
accompany life, for that day at least, as a destructive 
and terrifying feature. Then he saw the Eussian, 
already on his feet. His white and hairy little body 
had apparently risen energetically out of the scratch 
bedclothes simultaneously with the " going off " of 
his clock, as though it were a mechanism set for the 
same hour. 

They both dressed without a word. Kreisler wrote 
a short letter to his father, entrusting it to his second. 

Kreisler's last few francs were to be spent on a 
taxi to take them to the place arranged on, outside 
the fortifications. 

They found the other second sound asleep. Bitzenko 
more or less dressed him. They set out in their taxi 
to the rendezvous by way of the Bois. 

The chilly and unusual air of the early morning, 
the empty streets and shuttered houses, destroyed 
all feeling of reality of what was happening for 
Kreisler. Had the duel been a thing to fear it would 
have had an opposite effect. His errand did not 
appear as an inflexible reality, either, following upon 
events that there was no taking back. It was a 
whim, a caprice, they were pursuing, as though, for 
instance, they had woken up in the early morning 
and decided to go fishing. They were carrying it 
out with a dogged persistency, with which our whims 
are often served. 

He kept his thought away from Soltyk. He seemed 
a very long way off ; it would be fatiguing for the 
mind to go in search of him. 

When the scientist's nature, with immense fugue, 
260 



has induced a man to marry some handsome young 
lady — this feat accomplished, Nature leaves him 
practically alone, only coming back to give him a 
prod from time to time — assured that, like a little 
trickling stream, his life will go steadily on in the 
bed gauged for it by this upheaval. Nature, in 
Kreisler's case, had done its work of another descrip- 
tion. But she had left the Eussian with him to see 
that all was carried out according to her wishes. 
Kreisler's German nature that craved discipline, a 
course marked out, had got more even than it asked 
for. It had been presented with a mimic Fate. 

But Bitzenko evidently took his pleasure morosely. 
The calm and assurance of the evening before had 
given place to a brooding humour. He was only 
restored to a silent and intense animation on hearing 
his " Browning " speak. He produced this some- 
where in the Bois, and insisted on his principal 
having a little practice as they had plenty of time 
to spare. This was a very imprudent step. It 
might draw attention to their movements. Kreisler 
proved an excellent shot. Then the Eussian himself, 
with impassible face, emptied a couple of chambers 
into a tree-trunk. He put his " Browning " back 
into his pocket hastily after this, as though startled 
at his own self-indulgence. 

A piece of waste land, on the edge of a wood, 
well hidden on all sides, had been chosen for the duel. 

The enemy was not on the ground. Kreisler's 
passivity still subsisted. So far he had felt that 
Accident had been dealt a shrewd blow and brought 
to its knees. He was in good hands. Until this 
was all over he had nothing to worry about. 

Fresh compartment. The duel became for him, 
as he stood on the damp grass, conventional. It 
was a duel like another. He was seeking reparation 
by arms. He had been libelled and outraged. " A 
beautiful woman " was at the bottom of it. Life 
had no value for him ! Tant pis for the other man 
who had been foolhardy enough to cross his path. 
His coat-collar turned up, he looked sternly towards 

261 



the road, his moustaches blowing a little in the wind. 
He asked Bitzenko for a cigarette. That gentleman 
did not smoke, but the other Eussian produced a 
khaki cigarette with a long mouthpiece. He struck 
a light. As Kreisler lit his cigarette at it, his hand 
resting against the other's, a strange feeling shot 
through him at the contact of this flesh. He mois- 
tened his lips and spat out a piece of the mouth- 
piece he had bitten through. 

The hour arranged came round and there was still 
no sign of anybody. The possibility of a hitch in 
the proceedings dawned on Kreisler. Personal 
animosity for Soltyk revived. That idea of obsti- 
nacy in a caprice, instead of merely carrying out 
something prearranged and unavoidable, despite his 
passivity, had proved really the wakefulness of his 
will. He looked towards his companions, alone there 
on the ground of the encounter. They were an 
unsatisfactory pair, after all. They did not look a 
winning team. He reproached himself for having hit 
just on this Eussian for assistance. 

Bitzenko, on the other hand, was deep in thought. 
He was rehearsing his part of second. The duel in 
which he had blinded his adversary was a figment of 
his boyish brain, confided with tears in his voice one 
evening to a friend. His only genuine claim to 
activity was that, in a perfect disguise, he had 
assisted the peasants of his estate to set fire to his, 
little Manor House during the revolution of 1906 
for the fun of the thing and in an access of revolu- 
tionary sentiment. Afterwards he had assisted the 
police with information in the investigation of the 
affair, also anonymously. All this he kept to himself. 
He referred to his past in Eussia in a way that con- 
jured up more luridness than the flames of his little 
chateau (which did not burn at all well) warranted. 

Bitzenko was quite in his element climatically ; 
whereas Kreisler felt his hands getting so cold that 
he thought they might fail him in the duel. 

But a car was heard beyond the trees on the Paris 
road. This sound in the listless blur of nature was 

262 



masterful in its significance. It struck steadily and 
at once into brutish apathy. It so plainly knew 
what it wanted. It had perhaps outstripped men in 
that. Men in their soft bodies still contained the 
apathy of the fields. Their mind had burst out of 
them and taken these crawling pulps up on its rigid 
back. 

It was Staretsky's car. With its load of hats it 
drew up. The four members of the other party came 
on to the field, the fourth a young Polish doctor. 
They walked quickly. Bitzenko went to meet them. 
Staretsky protested energetically that the duel must 
not proceed. 

11 It must — not — go — on ! Should anything happen 
— you must allow me to say, should anything happen 
—the blood of whoever falls will be at your door ! " 
But he felt all the same that the prospect of having 
a little pond of blood at his door was an alluring one 
for Bitzenko. 

" Has not your principal seen that in accepting 
this duel, M. Soltyk had proved his respect for Herr 
Kreisler's claim ? The attitude your principal attri- 
buted to him is not his attitude " 

Bitzenko stiffened. 

" Is there anything in Herr Kreisler that would 
justify M. Soltyk in considering that he was con- 
' descending — — ? " 

The little Eussian kept up his cunning and baffling 
wrangle. Soltyk's eyes steadily avoided Kreisler's 
person. He hoped this ridiculous figure might make 
some move enabling them to abandon the duel. 
But the idea of a favour coming from such a quarter 
was repellent. His stomach had been out of order 
the day before — he wondered if it would surge up, 
disgrace him. He might be sick at any moment. 
He saw himself on tiptoe, in an ignominious spasm, 
the proceedings held up, friends and enemies watching. 
He kept his eyes off Kreisler as a man on board ship 
keeps his eyes off a dish of banana fritters or a poached 
egg. 

Kreisler, from twenty yards off, stared through his 
263 



glasses at the group of people lie had assembled, as 
though he had been examining the enemy through 
binoculars. Obediently, erect and still, he appeared 
rather amazed at what was occurring. Soltyk, in 
rear of the others, struggled with his bile. He slipped 
into his mouth a sedative tablet, oxide of bromium 
and heroin. This made him feel more sick. For 
a few moments he stood still in horror, expecting to 
vomit at every moment. The blood rushed to his 
head and covered the back of his neck with a warm 
liquid sheet. 

Kreisler's look of surprise deepened. He had seen 
Soltyk slipping something into his mouth, and was 
puzzled and annoyed, like a child. What was he up 
to ? Poison was the only guess he could give. What 
on earth ? 

Having taken part in many mensurs he knew that 
for this very serious duel his emotions were hardly 
adequate. His nervous system was as quiescent as 
a corpse's. He became offended with his phlegm. 
All this instinctive resistance to the idea of Death, 
the indignity of being nothing, was rendered empty 
by his premature insensitiveness. He tried to 
visualize and feel. In a few minutes he might be 
dead ! That had so little effect that he almost 
laughed. 

Then he reflected that that man over there might 
in a few minutes be wiped out. He would become a 
disintegrating mess, uglier than any vitriol or syphilis 
could make him. All that organism he, Kreisler, 
would be turning into dung, as though by magic. 
He, Kreisler, is insulted. The sensations and energies 
of that man deny him equality of existence. He, 
Kreisler, lifts his hand, presses a little bar of steel, 
and the other is swept away into the earth. Heaven 
knows where the insulting spirit goes to. But the 
physical disfigurement at least is complete. He went 
through it laboriously. But it fell flat as well. He 
was too near the event to benefit by his fancy. 
Possibilities were weakened by the nearness of 
Certainty. 

264 



His momentary resentment with Bitzenko survived, 
and lie next became annoyed at being treated like 
an object, as lie felt it. He was not deliberately 
conscious of much. But, try as he would to elude 
the disgraces and besmirchings of death, people 
refused to treat him as anything but a sack of 
potatoes. 

There four or five men had been arguing about him 
for the last five minutes, and they had not once 
looked his way. But clearly Bitzenko was defending 
his duel. 

Why should Bitzenko go on disposing of him in 
this fashion ? He took everything for granted ; he 
never so much as appealed to him, even once. Had 
Bitzenko been commissioned to hustle him out of 
existence ? 

But Soltyk. There was that fellow again slipping 
something into his mouth ! A cruel and fierce 
sensation of mixed real and romantic origin rose 
hotly round his heart. He loved that man ! But 
because he loved him he wished to plunge a sword 
into him, to plunge it in and out and up and down ! 
Why had pistols been chosen ? 

He would let him off for two pins ! He would let 

him off if Yes ! He began pretending to 

himself that the duel might after all not take place. 
That was the only way he could get anything out of it. 

He laughed ; then shouted out in German : 

" Give me one ! " 

They all looked round. Soltyk did not turn, but 
the side of his face became crimson. 

Kreisler felt a surge of active passion at the sight 
of the blood in his face. 

11 Give me one," Kreisler shouted again, putting out 
the palm of his hand, and laughing in a thick, in- 
sulting, hearty way. He was now a Knabe. He was 
young and cheeky. His last words had been said 
with quick cleverness. The heavy coquetting was 
double-edged. 

11 What do you mean ? " Bitzenko called back. 

11 I want a jujube. Ask Herr Soltyk ! " 
265 



They all turned towards the other principal to the 
duel, standing some yards on the other side of them. 

Head thrown back and eyes burning, Soltyk gazed 
at Kreisler. It was genuine, but not very strong. 
If killing could be embodied in the organ that sees — 
a new function of expression — a perfect weapon would 
exist. Only the intensest expression being effective, 
such spiritual blasting powers would be a solution of 
the arbitrary decisions of force. Words, glances, 
music are at present as indirect as hands and cannons. 
Such music might be written, however, that no fool, 
hearing it, could survive. Whether it throttled him 
in a spasm of disgust or of shame is immaterial. 
Soltyk's battery was too conventional to pierce the 
layers of putrifying tragedy, Kreisler' s bulwark. It 
played to the limit of its power. His cheeks were a 
dull red : his upper lip was stretched tightly over the 
gums. The white line of teeth made his face look as 
though he were laughing. He stamped his foot on 
the ground with the impetuous grace of a Eussian 
dancer, and started walking hurriedly up and down. 
He glared at his seconds as well, but although sick 
with impatience made no protest. 

A peal of drawling laughter came from Kreisler : 

" Sorry ! Sorry ! My mistake," he shouted. 

Bitzenko came over and asked Kreisler if he still, 
for his part, was of the same mind, that the duel 
should go on. The principal stared impenetrably at 
the second. 

" If such an arrangement can be come to as should 

— er " he began slowly.. He was going to play 

with Bitzenko too, against whom his humour had 
shifted. A look of deepest dismay appeared in the 
Eussian's face. 

" I don't understand. You mean ? " 

" I mean, that if the enemy and you can find a 

basis for understanding " and Kreisler went on 

staring at Bitzenko with his look of false surprise. 

" You seem very anxious for me to fight, Herr 
Bitzenko," he then said furiously. With a laugh at 
Bitzenko's miserable face and evident pleasure at his 

266 



quick-change temperamental, facial agility, he left 
him, walking towards the other assistants. 

Addressing Staretsky, his face radiating affability, 
stepping with caution, as though to avoid puddles, 
he said : 

"I am willing to forgo the duel at once on one 
condition. If Herr Soltyk will give me a kiss, I will 
forgo the duel ! " 

He smiled archly and expectantly at Staretsky. 

" I don't know what you mean ! " 

" Why, a kiss. You know what a kiss is, my dear 
sir." 

" I shall consider you out of your mind, if " 

" That is my condition." 

Soltyk had come up behind Staretsky. 

" What is your condition ? " he asked loudly. 

Kreisler stepped forward so quickly that he was 
beside him before Soltyk could move. With one hand 
coaxingly extended towards his arm, he was saying 
something, too softly for the others to hear. 

He had immobilized everybody by his rapid action. 
Surprise had shot their heads all one way. They 
stood, watching and listening, screwed into astonish- 
ment as though by deft fingers. 

His soft words, too, must have carried sleep. Their 
insults and their honey clogged up his enemy. A hand 
had been going up to strike. But at the words it 
stopped dead. So much new matter for anger had 
been poured into the ear that it wiped out all the 
earlier impulse. Action must be again begun right 
down from the root. 

Kreisler thrust his mouth forward amorously, his 
body in the attitude of the eighteenth -century gallant, 
as though Soltyk had been a woman. 

The will broke out frantically from the midst of 
bandages and a bulk of suddenly accruing fury. 
Soltyk tore at himself first, writhing upright, a 
statue's bronze softening, suddenly, with blood. He 
became white and red by turns. His blood, one heavy 
mass, hurtled about in him, up and down, like a 
sturgeon in a narrow tank. 

267 



All the pilules he had taken seemed acting seda- 
tively against the wildness of his muscles. The 
bromium fought the blood. 

His hands were electrified. Will was at last dashed 
all over him, an Arctic douche. The hands flew at 
Kreisler's throat. His nails made six holes in the 
flesh and cut into the tendons beneath. Kreisler 
was hurled about. He was pumped backwards and 
. forwards. His hands grabbed a mass of hair ; as a 
man slipping on a precipice gets hold of a plant. 
Then they gripped along the coat-sleeves, connecting 
him with the engine he had just overcharged with 
fuel. A sallow white, he became puffed and exhausted. 

" Acha — acha — " a noise, the beginning of a word, 
came from his mouth. He sank on his knees. A 
notion of endless violence filled him. " Tchun— tchun 
— tchun — tchun — tchun — tchun ! " He fell on his 
back, and the convulsive arms came with him. The 
strangling sensation at his neck intensified. 

Meanwhile a breath of absurd violence had smitten 
everywhere. 

Staretsky had said : 

" That crapule is beneath contempt ! Pouah ! — 
I refuse to act. Whatever induced us " 

Bitzenko had begun a discourse. Staretsky turned 
on him, shrieking, " Foute-moi la paix, imbecile ! " 
^ At this Bitzenko rapped him smartly on the cheek. 
Staretsky, who spent his mornings sparring with a 
negro pugilist, gave him a blow between the eyes, 
which laid him out insensible. 

Bitzenko's friend, interfering when he saw this, 
seized Staretsky round the waist, and threw him 
down, falling with him. 

The doctor and the other second, Wenceslas Khudin, 
went to separate Soltyk and Kreisler, scuffling and 
exhorting. The field was filled with cries, smacks, 
and harsh movements. 



This Slav chaos gradually cleared up. 
Soltyk was pulled off ; Staretsky and the young 
Eussian were separated. Bitzenko once more was on 

268 



his feet. Then they were all dusting their trousers, 
arranging their collars, picking up their hats. 

Kreisler stood stretching his neck to right and left 
alternately. His collar was torn open ; blood 
trickled down his chest. He had felt weak and unable 
to help himself against Soltyk. 

Actual fighting appeared a contingency outside the 
calculations or functioning of his spirit. Brutal by 
rote and in the imagination, if action came too 
quickly before he could inject it with his dream, his 
forces were disconnected. This physical melee had been 
a disturbing interlude. He was extremely offended 
at it. His eyes rested steadily and angrily on Soltyk. 
This attempt on his part to escape into physical and 
secondary things he must be made to pay for ! He 
staggered a little, with the dignity of the drunken man. 

His glasses were still on his nose. They had 
weathered the storm, tightly riding his face, because 
of Soltyk's partiality for his neck. 

Staretsky took Soltyk by the arm. 

" Come along, Louis. Surely you don't want any 
more of it ? Let's get out of this. I refuse to act 
as second. You can't fight without seconds ! " 
^ Soltyk was panting, his mouth opening and shut- 
ting. He first turned this way, then that. His 
action was that of a man avoiding some importunity. 

" C'est bien, c'est bien ! " he gasped in French. 
" Je sais. Laisse-moi." 

All his internal disorganization was steadily claim- 
ing his attention. 

" Mais d6peche-toi done ! Filons. Nous avons 
plus rien a faire ici." Staretsky slipped his arm 
through his. Half supporting him, he began urging 
him along towards the car. Soltyk, stumbling and 
coughing, allowed himself to be guided. 

Khudin and the doctor had been talking together, 
as the only two men on the field in full possession of 
their voices and breath. When they saw their friends 
moving off, they followed. 

Bitzenko, recuperating rapidly, started after them. 

269 



Kreisler saw all this at first with indifference. 
He had taken his handkerchief out and was dabbing 
his neck. Then suddenly, with a rather plaintive but 
resolute gait, he ran after his second, his eye fixed on 
the retreating Poles. 

" Hi ! A moment ! Your Browning. Give me 
your Browning ! " he said hoarsely. His voice had 
been driven back into the safer depths of his body. 
It was a new and unconvincing one. 

Bitzenko did not appear to understand. 

Kreisler plucked the revolver out of his pocket 
with the deftness of an animal. There was a report. 
He was firing in the air. 

Staretsky had faced quickly round, dragging 
Soltyk. Kreisler was covering them with the 
Browning. 

" Halt ! " he shouted. " Stop there ! Not so 
quickly ! I will shoot you like a dog if you will not 
fight ! " 

Still holding them up, he ordered Bitzenko to take 
over to them one of the revolvers provided for the duel. 

" That will be murder ! If you assist in this, sir, 
you will be participating in a murder ! Stop this " 

Staretsky was jabbering at Bitzenko, his arm 
through his friend's. Soltyk stood wiping his face 
with his hand, his eyes on the ground. His breath 
came heavily, and he kept shifting his feet. 

Bitzenko's tall young Bussian stood in a twisted 
attitude, a gargoyle Apollo. His mask of peasant 
tragedy had broken into a slight smile. 

" Move and I fire ! Move and I fire ! " Kreisler 
kept shouting, moving up towards them, with stealthy 
grogginess. He kept shaking the revolver and 
pointing at them with the other hand, to keep them 
alive to the reality of the menace. 

" Don't touch the pistols, Louis ! " said Staretsky, 
as Bitzenko came over with his leather dispatch -case. 
He let go of Soltyk's arm and folded his own. 

" Don't touch them, Louis. They daren't shoot ! " 

Louis appeared apathetic both as to the pistols 
and the good advice. 

270 



11 Leave him both," Kreisler called, his revolver 
still trained on Staretsky and Soltyk. 

Bitzenko put them both down, a foot away from 
Soltyk, and walked hurriedly out of the zone of 
fire. 

" Will you take up one of those pistols, or both ? " 
Kreisler said. 

11 Kindly point that revolver somewhere else, and 
allow us to go ! " Staretsky said loudly. 

11 I'm not speaking to you, pig-face ! It's you 
I'm addressing. Take up that pistol ! " 

He was now five or six yards from them. 

" Herr Soltyk is unarmed ! The pistols you want 
him to take only have one charge. Yours has twelve. 
In any case it would be murder ! " 

Kreisler walked up to them. He was very white, 
much quieter, and acted with effort. He stooped 
down to take up one of the pistols. Staretsky aimed 
a blow at his head. It caught him just in front of 
the ear, on the right cheek-bone. He staggered 
sideways, tripped, and fell. The moment he felt the 
blow he pulled the trigger of the Browning, which 
still pointed towards his principal adversary. Soltyk 
threw his arms up : Kreisler was struggling towards 
his feet : he fell face forwards on top of him. 
, Kreisler thought this was a new attack. He seized 
Soltyk's body round the middle, rolling over on top 
of it. It was quite limp. He then thought the other 

man had fainted ; ruptured himself ? He drew 

back quickly. Two hands grasped him and flung 
him down on his stomach. This time his glasses 
went. Scrambling after them, he remembered his 
Browning, which he had dropped. He shot his hands 
out to left and right — forgetting his glasses — to 
recover the Browning. He felt that a blow was a 
long time in coming. 

" He's dead ! He's dead ! He's dead ! " 

Staretsky's voice, announcing that in French, he 
heard at the same time as Bitzenko's saying : 

" What are you looking for ? Come quickly ! " 

11 Where is the Browning t " he asked. At that 
271 



moment his hand struck his glasses. He put them 
on and got to his feet. 

At Bitzenko's words he had a feeling of a new order 
of things having set in, that he remembered having 
experienced once or twice before in life. They came 
in a fresh surprising tone. It was as though they 
were the first words he had heard that day. They 
seemed to imply a sudden removal, a journey, novel 
conditions. 

" Come along, I've got the Browning. There's no 
time to lose." It was all over ; he must embrace 
practical affairs. The Eussian's voice was business- 
like. Something had finished for him, too. Kreisler 
saw the others standing in a peaceful group ; the 
doctor was getting up from beside Soltyk. 

Staretsky rushed over to Kreisler, and shook his 
fist in his face and tried to speak. But his mouth 
was twisted down at the corners, and he could hardly 
see. The palms of his hands pressed into each of his 
eyes, the next moment he was sobbing, walking back 
to his friends. 

Bitzenko's bolt was shot. Kreisler had been un- 
satisfactory. All had ended in a silly accident, which 
might have awkward consequences for his second. 
It was hardly a real corpse at all. 

But something was sent to console him. The 
police had got wind of the duel. Bitzenko, his 
compatriot and Kreisler were walking down the field, 
intending to get into the road at the farther end, 
and walk to the nearest station. The taxi had been 
sent away, Kreisler having no more money, and 
Bitzenko's feeling in the matter being that should 
Kreisler fall, a corpse can aways find some senti- 
mental soul to look after it. And there was always 
the Morgue, dramatic and satisfactory. 

They were already half-way along the field when a car 
passed them on the other side of the hedge at full tilt. 

The Eussian was once more in his element. His 
face cleared. He looked ten years younger. In the 
occupants of the car he had recognized members of 
the police force ! 

272 



Calling "Bun!" to Kreisler he took to his heels, 
followed by his young fellow-second, whose neck 
shot in and out, and whose great bow-legs could 
almost be heard twanging as he ran. They reached a 
hedge, ran along the farther side of it. Bitzenko was 
bent double as though to escape a rain of bullets. 
Eventually he was seen careering across an open 
space quite near the river, which lay a couple of 
hundred yards beyond the lower end of the field. 
There he lay ambushed for a moment, behind a shrub. 
Then he darted forward again, and eventually dis- 
appeared along the high road in a cloud of dust. 
His athletic young friend made straight for the 
railway station, which he reached without incident 
and returned at once to Paris. Kreisler conformed 
to Bitzenko's programme of flight. He scrambled 
through the hedge, crossed the road and escaped 
almost unnoticed. 

The truth was that the Eussian had attracted the 
attention of the police to such an extent by his striking 
flight, that without a moment's hesitation they had 
bolted helter-skelter after him. They contented 
themselves with a parting shout or two at Kreisler. 
Duelling was a very venial offence ; capture in these 
cases was not a matter of the least moment. But 
they were so impressed by the Eussian's businesslike 
way of disappearing that they imagined this must 
have been a curiously immoral sort of duel. That 
he was the principal they did not doubt for a moment. 

So they went after him in full cry, rousing two or 
three villagers in their passage, who followed at their 
heels, pouring with frantic hullabaloo in the direction 
of Paris. Bitzenko, however, with great resourceful- 
ness, easily outwitted them. He crossed the Seine 
near St. Cloud, and got back to Paris in time to 
read the afternoon newspaper account of the duel 
and flight with infantile solemnity and calm. 



273 



CHAPTEE VI 

Five days after this, in the morning, Otto Kreisler 
mounted the steps of the police-station of a small 
town near the German frontier. He was going to give 
himself up. 

Bitzenko had pictured his principal, in the event 
of his succeeding against Soltyk, seeking rapidly by 
train the German frontier, disguised in some extra- 
ordinary manner. Had the case been suggested to 
him of a man in this position without sufficient money 
in his pocket to buy a ticket, he would then have 
imagined a melodramatic figure hurrying through 
France, dodging and dogged by the police, defying 
a thousand perils. Whether Kreisler were still under 
the spell of the Eussian or not, this was the course, 
more or less, he took. He could be trusted not to go 
near Paris. That city dominated all his maledictions. 

The police disturbing the last act of his sanguinary 
farce was a similar contretemps to Soltyk's fingers in 
his throat. At the last moment everything had 
begun to go wrong. He had not prepared for it, 
because, as though from cunning, the world had shown 
no tendency up till then to interfere. 

Soltyk had died when his back was turned, so to 
speak. He got the contrary of comfort out of the 
thought that he could claim to have done the deed. , 
The police had rushed in and broken things off short, 
swept everything away, ended the banquet in a 
brutal raid. A deep sore, a shocked and dislocated 
feeling remained in Kreisler's mind. He had been 
hurried so much ! He had never needed leisure, 
breathing space, so much. The disaster of Soltyk's 
death was raw on him ! Had he been given time — 
only a little time — he might have put that to rights. 
(This sinister regret could only imply a possible 
mutilation of the corpse.) 

A dead man has no feeling. He can be treated as an 
object and hustled away. But a living man needs 
time ! — time ! 

274 



Does not a living man need so much time to develop 
his movements, to lord it with his thoughtful body, 
to unroll his will ? Time is what he needs ! 

As a tramp being hustled away from a cafe protests, 
at each jerk the waiter gives him, that he is a human 
being, probably a free human being — yes, probably 
free ; so Kreisler complained to his fate that he was 
a living man, that he required time — that above 
all it was time he needed — to settle his affairs and 
withdraw from life. But his fate was a harsh 
Prussian gendarme. He whined and blustered to no 
effect. 

He was superstitious as well in the usual way about 
this decease. In his spiritless and brooding tramp he 
questioned if it were not he that had died and not 
Soltyk, and if it were not his ghost that was now 
wandering off nowhere in particular. 

One franc and a great many coppers remained to 
him. As he jumped from field to road and road to 
field again, in his flight, they rose and fell in a little 
leaden wave in his pocket, breaking dully on his thigh. 
This little wave rose and fell many times, till he began 
to wait for it, and its monotonous grace. It was like 
a sigh. It heaved and clashed down in a foiled way. 

He spent the money that evening on a meal in a 
village. The night was dry and was passed in an 
empty barge. Next day, at four in the afternoon, he 
arrived at Meaux. Here he exchanged his entire 
wardrobe for a very shabby workman's outfit, gaining 
seven francs and fifty centimes on the exchange. 
He caught the early train for Eheims, travelling thirty - 
five kilometres of his journey at a sou a kilometre, got 
a meal near the station, and took another ticket to 
Verdun. Believing himself nearer the frontier than 
he actually was, he set out on foot. At the next 
large town, Pontlieux, he had too hearty a meal. He 
had exhausted his stock of money long before the 
frontier was reached. For two days he had eaten 
hardly anything ; and tramped on in a dogged and 
careless spirit. 

The nearness of the German frontier began to rise 
275 



like a wall in front of him. This question had to be 
answered : Did he want to cross it after all ? 

His answer was to mount the steps of the local 
gendarmerie. 

His Prussian severity of countenance, now that he 
was dressed in every point like a vagabond, without 
hat and his hair disordered, five days' beard on his 
chin — this sternness of the German warrior gave him 
the appearance of a scowling ruffian. The agent on 
duty, who barred his passage brutally before the door 
of the inner office, scowling too, classed him as a 
depraved cut-throat vagabond, and considered his 
voluntary entrance into the police-station as an act 
not only highly suspicious and unaccountable in 
itself, but of the last insolence. 

" Qu'est-ce qu'il te faut 1 " 

"Foir le Commissaire," returned Kreisler. 

" Tu ne peux pas le voir. II n'y est pas." 

A few more laconic sentences followed, the agent 
reiterating sulkily that the magistrate was not there. 
But he was eyeing Kreisler doubtfully and turning 
something over in his mind. 

The day before, two Germans had been arrested 
in the neighbourgood as spies, and were now locked up 
in this building until further evidence should be 
collected on the affair. It is extremely imprudent 
for a German to loiter on the frontier on entering 
France. It is much wiser for him to push on at 
once — neither looking to right nor left — pretending 
especially not to notice hills, unnatural military- 
looking protuberances, ramparts, etc. — to hurry on 
as rapidly as possible to the interior. But the two 
men in question were carpenters by profession, and 
both carried huge foot-rules in their pockets. The 
local authorities on this discovery were in a state of 
the deepest consternation. They shut them up, 
with their implements, in the most inaccessible 
depths of the local police-station. And it was in the 
doorway of this building — all the intermittant in- 
habitants of which were in a state of hysterical 
speculation, that Kreisler had presented himself. 

276 



The agent, who had recognized a German by his 
accent and manner, at last turned and disappeared 
through the door, telling him to wait. He reappeared 
with several superiors. All of them crowded in the 
doorway and surveyed Kreisler blankly. One asked 
in a voice of triumphant suspicion : 

" And what are you doing there, my good fellow ? " 

" I had tuel, and killed the man ; I have walked 
for more days " 

" Yes, we know all about that ! " 

" So you had a duel, eh ? " asked another, and they 
all laughed with nervous suddenness at the picture of 
this vagabond defending his honour at twenty paces. 

" Well, is that all you have to say ? " 

" I would eat." 

" Yes ! your two friends inside also have big 
appetites. But come to the point. Have you 
anything to tell us about your compatriots inside 
there ? " 

Since his throttling by Soltyk, Kreisler had changed. 
He knew he was beaten. There was nothing to do 
but to die. His body ran to the German frontier as a 
chicken's does down a yard, headless, from the 
block. 

Kreisler did not understand the official. He 
muttered that he was hungry. He could hardly 
stand. Leaning his shoulder against the wall, he 
stood with his eyes on the ground. He was making 
himself at home ! " What a nerve ! " 

" Va t'en ! If you don't want to tell us anything, 
clear out. Be quick about it ! A pretty lot of 
trouble you cursed Germans are giving us. You'll 
none of you speak when it comes to the point. You 
all stand staring like boobies. But that won't pay 
here. Off you go ! " 

They all turned back into the office, and slammed 
the door. The agent stood before it again, looking 
truculently at Kreisler, He said : 

" Passez |votre chemin ! Don't stand gaping 
there ! " 

Then, giving him a shake, he hustled him to the 
277 



top of the steps. A parting shove sent him stagger- 
ing down into the road. 

Kreisler walked on for a little. Eventually, in a 
quiet square, near the entrance to the town, he fell 
on a bench, drew his legs up and went to sleep. 

At ten o'clock, the town lethargically retiring, all 
its legs moving slowly, like a spent insect, heavily 
boarding itself in, an agent came gradually along the 
square. Kreisler's visit to the police-station was not 
known to this one. He stopped opposite the sleeping 
Kreisler, surveying him with lawful indignation. 

" En voila un joli gigolo ! " He swayed energeti- 
cally up to him. 

" Eh ! le copain ! Tu voudrais coucher a la belle 
etoile I " 

He shook him. 

" Oh, la ! Tu ne peux pas dormir ici ! Houp ! 
D6peches-toi. Mets-toi debout ! " 

Kreisler responded only by a tired movement as 
though to bury his skull in the bench. A more 
violent jerk rolled him on the ground. 

He woke up and protested in German, with a sort 
of dull asperity. He got on to his feet. 

At the sound of the familiar gutturals of the neigh- 
bouring Empire, the agent became differently angry. 
Kreisler stood there, muttering partly in German and 
partly in French ; he was very tired. He was telling 
bitterly of his attempt to get into the police-station, 
and of his inhospitable reception. The agent under- 
stood several words of German — notably " ja " and 
" lager beer " and " essen." The consequence was 
that he always thought he understood more than was 
really said in that language. However much might 
be actually intended on any given occasion by the 
words of that profound and teeming tongue, it could 
never equal in scope, intensity, and meaning what he 
heard. 

So he was convinced that Kreisler was threatening 
an invasion, and scoffed loudly in reply. He under- 
stood Kreisler to assert that the town in which they 
stood would soon belong to Germany, and that he 

278 



would then sleep, not on a bench, but in the best bed 
their dirty little hole of a village could offer. He 
approached him threateningly. And eventually the 
functionary distinctly heard himself apostrophized 
as a " sneaking ' flic '," a " dirty peeler." At that 
he laid his hand on Kreisler's collar, and threw him 
in the direction of the police-station. He had mis- 
calculated the distance. Kreisler, weak for want of 
food, fell at his feet ; but, getting up, scuffled a short 
time. Then, it occurring to him that here was an 
unhoped for way of getting a dinner, and being lodged 
after all in the bureau de police, he suddenly became 
passive and complaisant. 

Arrived at the police-station — with several revolts 
against the brutal handling to which he was subjected 
— he was met at the door by the same inhospitable 
man. Exasperated beyond measure at this unwel- 
come guest turning up again, the man sent his com- 
rade into the office to report, while he held Kreisler. 
He held him as a restive horse is held, and jerked him 
several times against the wall, as if he had been 
showing signs of resistance. 

Two men, one that he had formerly seen, came and 
looked at him. No effort was made to discover if he 
were really at fault or not. By this time they were 
,quite convinced that he was a desperate character, 
and if not a spy, then anyway a murderer, although 
they were inclined to regard him as a criminal mystery. 
At all events they no longer could question his right 
to a night's lodging. 

Kreisler was led to a cell, given some bread and 
water at his urgent request, and left alone. 

On the following morning he was taken up before 
the commissaire de police. When Kreisler was 
brought in, this gentleman had just finished cross- 
examining for the fifteenth time the two German 
carpenters who were retained as spies. They were 
not let alone for an instant. They would be dragged 
out of their cells three times in the course of an after- 
noon, as often as a new and brilliant idea should 
strike one of the numerous staff of the police-station. 

279 



They would be confronted with their foot-rules, and 
watched in breathless silence ; or be keenly cross - 
questioned, confused and contradicted as to the exact 
hour at which they had lunched the day before their 
arrest. The commissaire was perspiring all over 
with the intensity of his last effort to detect some- 
thing. Kreisler was led in, and prevented from 
finishing any sentence or of becoming in any way 
intelligible during a quarter of an hour by the furious 
interruptions of the enraged officer. At last he suc- 
ceeded in asserting that he was quite unacquainted 
with the two carpenters ; moreover, that all he 
needed was food ; that he had decided to give himself 
up and await the decision of the Paris authorities as 
regards the deed. If they were not going to take any 
action, he would return to Paris — at least, as soon as 
he had received a certain letter ; and he gave his 
address. The commissiare considered him with ex- 
hausted animosity and he was sent back to his 
cell. 

He slept the greater part of the day, but the next 
he spent nervous and awake. In the afternoon a full 
confirmation of his story reached the authorities. 
It was likely that the following morning he would be 
sent to Paris. It meant, then, that he was going to 
be tried as a kind of murderer. He could not allege 
complete accident. The thought of Paris, the 
vociferous courts, the ennuis of a criminal case about 
this affair, so thoroughly ended and boringly out of 
date, disturbed him extremely. Then the Eussian — 
he would have to see him again. Kreisler felt that 
he was being terribly worried once more. Sorrow 
for himself bowed him down. This journey to Paris 
resembled his crossing of the German frontier. He 
had felt that it was impossible to see his father. That 
represented an effort he would do anything to avoid. 
Eesentment against his parent had vanished. It was 
this that made a meeting so difficult. It was a 
stranger, with an ill will that had survived his own, 
awaiting him. Noise, piercing noise, effort, awaited 
him revengefully. He knew exactly what his father 

280 



would do and say. If there had been a single item 
that he could not forecast !— But there was not the 
least item. Paris was the same. The energy and 
obstinacy of the rest of the world, the world that 
would question him and drag him about, these 
frightened him as something mad. Bitzenko ap- 
pealed most to this new-born timidity. Bitzenko 
was like some favourite dish a man has one day eaten 
too much of, and will never be able again to enjoy, 
or even support. 

On the other hand, he became quite used to his cell. 
His mind was sick, and this room had a clinical 
severity. It had all the economical elements of a 
place in which a human operation might be per- 
formed. He became fond of it as patients get an 
appetite for the leanness of convalescent life. He 
lay on his bed. He turned over the shell of many 
empty and depressing hours he had lived. He took 
particular pleasure in these listless concave shapes. 
His " good times " were avoided. Days spent with 
his present stepmother, before his father knew her, 
gave him a particularly numbing and nondescript 
feeling. 

He sat up, listening to the noises from the neigh- 
bouring rooms and corridors. It began to sound to 
him like one steady preparation for his removal. 
Steps bustled about getting this ready and getting 
that ready. 

The police-station had cost him some trouble to 
enter. But they had been attracted to each other 
from the start. Something in the form of an illicit 
attachment now existed between them. Buildings 
are female. There is no such thing as a male building. 
This practical and pretentious small modern edifice 
was having its romance. Otto Kreisler was its 
romance. 

It was now warning him. It echoed sharply and 
insistently the feet of its policemen. 

After his evening meal he took up his bed in his 
arms and placed it on the opposite side of the cell, 
under the window. He sat there for some time as 

281 



though resting after this effort. The muttering of 
two children on a doorstep in the street below came 
to him on the evening light with melodramatic stops 
and emptiness. It bore with it an image, like an old 
picture, bituminous and with a graceful, queer 
formality. It fixed itself before him like a mirage. 
He watched it muttering. 

He began slowly drawing off his boots. He took 
out the laces, and tied them together for greater 
strength. Then he tore several strips off his shirt, 
and made a short cord of them. He went through 
these actions deliberately and deftly, as though it 
were a routine and daily happening. He measured 
the drop from the bar of the ventilator, calculating the 
necessary length of cord, like a boy preparing the 
accessories of some game. It was only a game, too. 
He realized what these proceedings meant, but 
shunned the idea that it was serious. Just as an 
unmoral man with a disinclination to write a necessary 
letter takes up the pen, resolving to begin it merely 
and writes more and more until it is, in fact, completed, 
so Kreisler proceeded with his task. 

Standing on his bed, he attached the cord to the 
ventilator. He tested its strength by holding it some 
inches from the top, and then, his shoulders hunched, 
swaying his whole weight languidly on it for a 
moment. 

Adjusting the noose, he smoothed his hair back 
after he had slipped it over his head. He made as 
though to kick the bed away, playfully, then stood 
still, staring in front of him. The last moment must 
be one of realization. He was not a coward. His 
caution was due to his mistrust of some streaks of 
him, the sex streak the powerfullest. 

A sort of heavy confusion burst up as he withdrew 
the restraint. It reminded him of Soltyk's hands on 
this throat. The same throttling feeling returned. 
The blood bulged in his head. He felt dizzy ; it 
was the Soltyk struggle over again. But, as with 
Soltyk, he did not resist. He gently worked the bed 
outwards from under him, giving it a last steady shove. 

282 



He hung, gradually choking, the last thing he was 
conscious of, his tongue. 

The discovery of his body caused a deep-felt indig- 
nation among the staff at the police-station. They 
remembered the persistence with which this unprin- 
cipled and equivocal vagrant (as which they still 
regarded him) had attempted to get into the building. 
And it was clear to their minds that his sole purpose 
had been to hang himself on their premises. He had 
mystified them from the first. Now their vague 
suspicions were bitterly confirmed, and had taken an 
unpardonable form. Each man felt that this corpse 
had personally insulted and made a fool of him. 
They thrust it savagely into the earth, with vexed 
and disgusted faces. 

Herr Kreisler paid without comment what was 
claimed by the landlord in Paris for his son's room ; 
and writing to the authorities at the frontier town 
about the burial, paid exactly the sum demanded by 
this town for disposing of the body.j 



CHAPTEE VII 

The sight of Bertha's twistings and turnings, her un- 
dignified rigmarole, had irritated Anastasya. This 
was why she had brutally announced, as though to 
cut short all that, that Kreisler's behaviour was due 
simply to the fact that he fancied himself in love with 
her, Anastasya. " He was not worrying about 
Fraulein Lunken. He was in love with me ; " the 
statement amounted to that. There was no disdain- 
ful repudiation or self -reference in her statement ; 
only a piece of information. 

Bertha's intuitions and simplifications had not 
been without basis. This " hostile version " had 
contained a certain amount of hostile intention. 

But Anastasya had another reason for this immodest 
explicitness. She personally liked Kreisler. The 
spectacle of Bertha excusing herself, and in the process 

283 



putting Kreisler in a more absurd and unsatisfactory- 
light, annoyed her extremely. 

How could Tarr consort with Bertha, she questioned ? 
Her aristocratic woman's sense did not appreciate 
the taste for a slut, a miss or a suburban queen. The 
apache, the coster girl, fisher-lass, all that had 
character, oh, yes. Her romanticism, in fact, was of 

the same order as Butcher's only better. 
* * * c * 

Two days after the duel she met Tarr in the street. 
They agreed to meet at Lejeune's for dinner. 

The table at which she had first come across Kreis- 
ler was where they sat. 

" You knew Soltyk, didn't you ? " he asked her. 

" Yes. It was a terrible affair. Poor Soltyk ! " 

She looked at Tarr doubtfully. A certain queer 
astonishment in her face struck Tarr. It was the 
only sign of movement beneath. She spoke with a 
businesslike calm about his death. There was no 
sign of feeling or search for feeling. 

She refused to regard herself as the " woman in the 
affair." She knew people referred to her as that. 
Soltyk possessed a rather ridiculous importance, being 
dead ; a cadaveric severity in the meaning of the 
image, Soltyk, for her. The fact was bigger than the 
person. He was like a boy in his father's clothes. 

Kreisler, on the other hand, she abominated. To 
have killed, fte to have killed ! — and to have killed 
some one she knew ! It was a hostile act to bring 
death so near her. She knew it was hostile. She 
hoped he might never come back to Paris. She did 
not want to meet Kreisler. 

But these feelings were not allowed to transpire. 
She recognized them as personal. She was so fas- 
tidious that she refrained from using them in discussing 
the affair when they would have given a suspect readi- 
ness and " sincerity " to her expression. She rather 
went to the other extreme. 

" They say Soltyk was not killed in a duel," Tarr 
continued. " Kreisler is to be charged with murder, 
or at least manslaughter." 

284 



" Yes, I have heard that Kreisler shot him before 

he was ready or something " 

" I heard that he was shot when he was unarmed. 
There was no duel at all." 

" Oh, that is not the version I have heard." 
She did not seem revengeful about her friend. 
" I was Kreisler's second for half an hour," Tarr 
said in a minute. 

" How do you mean, for half an hour ? " She was 
undemonstrative but polite. 

"I. happened to be there, and was asked to help 
him until somebody else could be found. I did not 
suspect him, I may say, of meaning to go to such 
lengths." 

" What was the reason of it all — do you know ? " 
"According to Kreisler, they had done some 

smacking earlier in the day " 

"Yes. Herr Kreisler met Soltyk and myself. I 
think that Soltyk then was a little in the wrong." 
" I dare say." 

Tarr's sympathies were all with Kreisler. He had 
never been attracted by Poles, and as such rather than 
a Eussian he thought of Soltyk. Deep square races 
he preferred. And Kreisler was a clumsy and de- 
generate atavism bringing a peculiarity into too 
elastic life. 

Some of Tarr's absurd friendliness for Bertha 
flowed over on to her fellow-countryman. 

Had Anastasya more of a hand in the duel than he 
would naturally believe ? Her indifference to Soltvk's 
death, and her favouring Kreisler, almost pointed to 
something unusual. Kreisler's ways were still 
mysterious ! 

That was all they said about the duel. As they 
were finishing the meal, after turning her head 
towards the entrance door, Anastasya remarked, 
with mock concern : 

" There is your fiancee. She seems rather upset." 
Tarr looked towards the door. Bertha's white 
face was close up against one of the narrow panes, 
above the lace curtain. There were four and a half 

285 



feet of window on either side of the door. There 
were so many objects and lights in the front well of 
the shop that her face would not be much noticed in 
the corner it had chosen. 

Her eyes were round, vacant, and dark, the features 
very white and heavy, the mouth steadily open in 
painful lines. As he looked the face drew gradually 
away, and then disappeared into the melodramatic 
night. It was a large trapped fly on the pane. It 
withdrew with a glutinous, sweet slowness. The 
heavy white jowl seemed pulling itself out of some 
fluid trap where it had been caught like a weighty 
body. 

Tarr knew how the pasty flesh would nestle against 
the furs, the shoulders swing, the legs move just as 
much as was necessary for progress, with no movement 
of the hips. Everything about her in the chilly night 
would give an impression of warmth and system. The 
sleek cloth fitting the square shoulders tightly, the 
underclothes carefully tight as well, the breath from 
her nostrils the slight steam from a contented machine. 

He caught Anastasya's eye and smiled. 

11 Your fiancee is pretty," she said, pretending that 
was the answer to the smile. 

" She's not my fiancee. But she's a pretty girl." 

" Oh, I understood vou were engaged " 

" No." 

" It's no good," he thought. But he must spare 
Bertha in future such discomforting sights. 









286 



PART VII 
SWAGGEE SEX 

OHAPTEE I 

Bertha was still being taken in carefully prepared 
doses of an hour a day : from half -past four to a 
quarter to six. Any one else would have found this 
much of Bertha insupportable under any conditions. 
But Tarr's eccentric soul had been used to such far 
greater doses that this was the minimum he con- 
sidered necessary for a cure. 

Tarr came to her every day with the regularity of 
an old gentleman at a German " Bad " taking his 
spring water at the regulation hour. But the cure 
was finishing. There were signs of a new robustness, 
(hateful to her) equivalent to a springy walk and a 
contented and sunny eye, that heralded departure. 
His daily visits, with their brutal regularity, did her 
as much harm as they did him good. 

The news of Soltyk's death, then Kreisler's, affected 
the readily melodramatic side of her nature peculiarly. 
Death had made himself de la partie. Kreisler had 
left her alone for a few days. This is what had 
occupied him. The sensational news, without actu- 
ally pushing her to imitation, made her own case, 
and her own tragic sensations, more real. They had 
received, in an indirect and cousin-thrice-removed 
sort of way, the authority of Death. Death — real 
living Death — was somewhere on the scene. His 

287 



presence was announced, was felt. He had struck 
down somebody among them. 

In the meantime this disposed of Kreisler for ever. 
Tarr as well appeared to feel that they were left in 
tSte-d-tSte. A sort of chaperon had been lost in 
Kreisler. His official post as protector or passive 
" obstacle " had been a definite status. If he stayed 
on, it would have to be as something else. On the 
day on which the news of Kreisler's end arrived, he 
talked of leaving for England. Her more drawn face, 
longer silences, sharp glances, once more embarrassed 
him. 

He did not go to England at once. In the week or 
two succeeding his meeting with Anastasya in the 
restaurant he saw her frequently. So a chaperon 
was found. Bertha was officially presented to her 
successor. When she learnt that Anastasya had 
been chosen, her energy reformed. She braced herself 
for a substantial struggle. 

The apparition at the window of the restaurant 
was her first revived activity. 



CHAPTEE II 

On August the tenth Tarr had an appointment 
with Anastasya at his studio in Montmartre. They 
had arranged to dine in Montmartre. It was 
their seventh meeting. He had just done his daily 
cure. He hurried back and found her lounging 
against the door, reading the newspaper. 

" Ah, there you are ! You're late, Mr. Tarr." 
" Am I ? I'm sorry. Have you been waiting 
long ? " 

" Not very. Fraulein Lunken " 

" She — I couldn't get away." 
" No, it is difficult to get away, apparently." 
He let her in. He was annoyed at the backward- 
ness of his senses. His mind stepped in, determined 
to do their business for them. He put his arm round 

288 



her waist, and planting his lips fully on hers, began 
kissing her. He slipped his hands sideways beneath 
her coat, and pressed an athletic, sinuous hulk 
against him. The various bulging and retreating 
contact of her body brought monotonous German 
reminders. 

It was the first time he had kissed her. She 
showed no bashfulness or disinclination, but no 
return. Was she in the unfortunate position of an 
unawakened mass ; and had she so rationalized her 
intimate possessions that there was no precocious 
fancy left until mature animal ardour was set up? 
He felt as though he were embracing a tiger, who was 
not unsympathetic, but rather surprised. Perhaps 
he had been too sudden. He ran his hand upwards 
along her body. All was statuesquely genuine. She 
took his hand away. 

" We haven't come to that yet," she said. 

" Haven't we ! " 

11 1 didn't think we had." 

Smiling at each other, they separated. 

' ' Let me take your coat off. You'll be hot in here. ' ' 

Her coat was all in florid redundancies of heavy 
cloth, like a Tintoretto dress. Underneath she was 
wearing a very plain dark blouse and skirt, like a 
Working girl, which exaggerated the breadth and 
straightness of her shoulders. Not to sentimentalize 
it, she had open-work stockings on underneath, such 
as the genuine girl would have worn on her night out, 
at one and eleven-three the pair. 

" You look very well," Tarr said. 

" I put these on for you." 

Tarr had, while he was kissing her, found his senses 
again. They had flared up in such a way that the 
reason had been offended, and resisted. Hence some 
little conflict. They were not going to have the 
credit ! 

He became shy. He was ashamed of his sudden 
interest, which had been so long in coming, and 
instinctively hid it. He was committed to the rdle 
of a reasonable man. 

289 t 



C 'I am very flattered at your thinking of me in 
that way. I am afraid I do not deserve " 

" I want you to deserve, though. You are absurd 
about women. You are like a schoolboy ! " 

" Oh, you've noticed that ? " 

" It doesn't require much " 

She lay staring at him in a serious way. Squashed 
up as she was lying, a very respectable bulk of hip 
filled the space between the two arms of the chair, 
not enough to completely satisfy a Dago, but too 
much to please a dandy of the west. He compared 
this opulence with Bertha's and admitted that it 
outdid his fiancee's. He did this childish measuring 
in the belief that he was not observed. 

" You are extremely recalcitrant to intelligence, 
aren't you % " she said. 

" In women, you mean % " 

" Yes." 

11 1 suppose I am. My tastes are simple." 

" I don't know anything about your tastes, of 
course. I'm guessing." 

" You can take it that you are right." 

He began to feel extremely attracted to this 
intelligent head. He had been living for the last 
week or so in the steady conviction that he should 
never get the right sensual angle with this girl. It 
was a queer feeling, after all, to see his sensuality 
speaking sense. He would marry her. 

" Well," she said, with pleasant American accent 
in speaking English, "I feel you see some disability in 
sensible women that does not exist. It doesn't irritate 
you too much to hear a woman talking about it ? " 

" Of course not — you. You are so handsome. 
I shouldn't like it if you were less so. Such good 
looks " (he rolled his eyes appreciatively) " get us 
out of arty coldness. You are all right. The worst 
of looks like yours is that sense has about the same 
effect as nonsense. Sense is a delightful anomaly 
just as rot would be ! You don't require words or 
philosophy. But they give one a pleasant tickling 
all the same." 

290 



" I am glad you are learning. However, don't 
praise me like that. It makes me a little shy. I know 
how you feel about women. You feel that good 
sense gets in the way." 

11 It interferes with the senses, you mean % I don't 

think I feel that altogether " 

" You feel I'm not a woman, don't you ? Not 
properly a woman, like your Bertha. There's no 
mistake about her ! " 

" One requires something unconscious, perhaps. 
I've never met any woman who interested me but 
was ten times more stupid than I. I want to be alone 
in those things. I like it to be subterranean as well." 
" Well, I have a cave ! I've got all that, too. 
I promise you." 

Her promise was slow and lisping. Tarr once more 
had to deal with himself. 

"I — am — a woman; not a man. That is the fact." 
("Fact" was long and American.) "You don't 
realize that — I assure you I am ! " She looked at 
him with a soft, steady smile, that drew his gaze and 
will into her, ra/ther than imposed itself on him. 

" I know." He felt that there was not much to 
say. 

/ " No, you know far less than you think. See here ; 
I set out thinking of you in this way — ' Nothing but 
a female booby will please that man ! ' I wanted to 
please you, but I couldn't do it on those lines. I'm 
going to make an effort along my own lines. You 
are like a youngster who hasn't got used to the taste 
of liquor ; you don't like it. You haven't grown up 
yet. I want to make you drunk and see what 
happens ! " 

She had her legs crossed. Extremely white flesh 
showed above the black Lisle silk, amidst linen as 
expensive as the outer cloth was plain. This clever 
alternating of the humble and gorgeous ! Would 
the body be plain ! The provocation was merely a 
further argument. It said, " Young man, what is 
there you find in your Bertha that cannot be provided 
along with superior sense ? " His Mohammedan eye 

291 



did not refuse the conventional bait. His butcher's 
sensibility pressed his fancy into professional details. 
What with her words and her acts he was in a state 
of strong confusion. 

She jumped up and put on her coat, like a ponderous 
curtain showering down to her heels. Peep-shows 
were ended ! 

" Come, let's have some dinner. I'm hungry. 
We can discuss this problem better after a beefsteak ! " 
A Porterhouse would have fitted, Tarr thought. 

He followed obediently and silently. He was glad 
that Anastasya had taken things into her hands. 
The positions that these fundamental matters got 
him into ! Should he allow himself to be overhauled 
and reformed by this abnormal beauty ? He was 
not altogether enjoying himself. He felt a ridiculous 
amateur. He was a butcher in his spare moments. 
This immensely intellectual ox, covered with prizes 
and pedigrees, overwhelmed him. You required not 
a butcher, but an artist, for that ! He was not an 
artist in anything but oil-paint. Oil-paint and meat 
were singularly alike. They had reciprocal poten- 
tialities. But he was afraid of being definitely 
distracted. 

The earlier coldness all appeared cunning : his 
own former coldness was the cunning of destiny. 

He felt immensely pleased with himself as he 
walked down the Boulevard Clichy with this perfect 
article rolling and sweeping beside him. No bour- 
geoise this time ! He could be proud of this anywhere ! 
Absolute perfection ! Highest quality obtainable. 
" The face that launched a thousand ships." A 
thousand ships crowded in her gait. There was 
nothing highfalutin about her, Burne-Jonesque, 
Grail-lady, or Irish-romantic. Perfect meat, perfect 
sense, accent of Minnesota, music of the Steppes ! 
And all that was included under the one inadequate 
but pleasantly familiar heading, German. He became 
more and ^ more impressed with what was German 
about her. 

He took her to a large, expensive, and quiet 
292 



restaurant. They began with oysters. He had 
never eaten oysters before. Prudence had prevented 
him. She laughed very much at this. 

" You are a savage, Tarr ! " The use of his sur- 
name was a tremendous caress. " You are afraid of 
typhoid, and your palate is as conservative as an ox's. 
Give me a kiss ! " 

She put her lips out ; he kissed them with solemnity 
and concentration, adjusting his glasses afterwards. 

They discussed eating for some time. He dis- 
covered he knew nothing about it. 

" Why, man, you never think ! " 

Tarr considered. " No, I'm not very observant in 
many things. But I have a defence. All that part 
of me is rudimentary. But that is as it should be." 

" How— as it should be % " 

" I don't disperse myself. I specialize on neces- 
sities." 

" Don't you caU food ? " 

" Not in the way you've been considering it. 
Listen. Life is art's rival and vice versa." 

" I don't see the opposition." 

" No, because you mix them up. You are the 
archenemy of any picture." 

" I ! Nonsense ! But art comes out of life, in 
any case. What is art ? " 

" My dear girl — life with all the nonsense taken 
out of it. Will that do ? " 

" Yes. But what is art — especially ? " She in- 
sisted with her hands on a plastic answer. " Are we 
in life, now ? What is art ? " 

" Life is anything that could live and die. Art is 
peculiar ; it is anything that lives and that yet you 
cannot imagine as dying." 

"Why cannot art die? If you smash up a statue, 
it is as dead as a dead man." 

" No, it is not. That is the difference. It is the 
God, or soul, we say, of the man. It always has 
existed, if it is a true statue." 

" But cannot you say of some life that it could not 
die ? " 

293 



" No, because in that case it is the real coming 
through. Death is the one attribute that is peculiar 
to life. It is the something that it is impossible to 
imagine in connexion with art. Eeality is entirely 
founded on this fact, that of Death. All action 
revolves round that, and has it for motif. The 
purest thought is totally ignorant of death. Death 
means the perpetual extinction of impertinent sparks. 
But it is the key of life." 

"But what is art% You are talking about it as 
though I knew what it was ! " 

" What is life, do you know ? Well, I know what 
art is in the same way." 

" Yes, but I ask you as a favour to define it for 
me. A picture is art, a living person is life. We 
sitting here are life ; if we were talking on a stage 
we should be art. How would you define art ? " 

" Well, let's take your example. But a picture, 
and also the actors on a stage, are pure life. Art is 
merely what the picture and the stage-scene represent, 
and what we now, and any living person as such, only, 
do not. That is why you can say that the true 
statue can be smashed, and yet not die." 

" Still, what is it 1 What is art ? " 

"It is ourselves disentangled from death and 
accident." 

" How do you know ? " 

" I feel that is so, because I notice that that is the 
essential point to grasp. Death is the thing that 
differentiates art and life. Art is identical with 
the idea of permanence. It is a continuity and 
not an individual spasm. Life is the idea of the 
person." 

Both their faces lost some of their colour, hers 
her white, his his yellow. They flung themselves 
upon each other like waves. The fuller stream came 
from him. 

" You say that the actors on the stage are pure life, 
yet they represent something that we do not. But 
' all the world's a stage,' isn't it? So how do we not 
also stand for that something ? " 

294 



" Yes, life does generally stand for that something 
too ; but it only emerges and is visible in art." 
" Still I don't know what art is ! " 
"You ought to by this time. However, we can 
go further. Consider the content of what we call art. 
A statue is art, as you said ; you are life. There is 
bad art and bad life. We will only consider the good. 
A statue, then, is a dead thing; a lump of wood or 
stone. Its lines and masses are its soul. Anything 
living, quick and changing, is bad art, always ; naked 
men and women are the worst art of all, because 
there are fewer semi-dead things about them. The 
shell of the tortoise, the plumage of a bird, makes 
these animals approach nearer to art. Soft, quivering 
and quick flesh is as far from art as an object can be." 

" Art is merely the dead, then ? " 

" No, but deadness is the first condition of art. 
A hippopotamus's armoured hide, a turtle's shell, 
feathers or machinery on the one hand ; that opposed 
to naked pulsing and moving of the soft inside of life, 
along with infinite elasticity and consciousness of 
movement, on the other. 

" Deadness, then," Tarr went on, " in the limited 
sense in which we use that word is the first condition 
of art. The second is absence of soul, in the senti- 
mental human sense. The lines and masses of the 
statue are its soul. No restless, quick, flame-like ego 
is imagined for the inside of it. It has no inside. 
This is another condition of art ; to have no inside, 
nothing you cannot see. Instead, then, of being 
something impelled like a machine by a little egoistic 
fire inside, it lives soullessly and deadly by its frontal 
lines and masses." 

Tarr was developing, from her point of view, too 
much shop. She encouraged him, however, imme- 
diately. 

" Why should human beings be chiefly represented 
in art ? " 

" Because what we call art depends on human 
beings for its advertisement. As men's ideas about 
themselves change, art should change too." 

295 



They had waded through a good deal of food while 
this conversation had been proceeding. She now 
stretched herself, clasping her hands in her lap. She 
smiled at Tarr as though to invite him to smile too, 
at her beautiful, heavy, hysterical anatomy. She 
had been driving hard inscrutable Art deeper and 
deeper into herself. She now drew it out and showed 
it to Tarr. 

" Art is paleozoic matter, dolomite, oil-paint, and 
mathematics ; also something else. Having estab- 
lished that, we will stick a little flag up and come 
back another day. I want to hear now about life. 
But do you believe in anything ? " 

Tarr was staring, suspended, with a smile cut in 
half, therefore defunct, at the wall. He turned his 
head slowly, with his mutilated smile, his glasses 
slanting in an agreeably vulpine way. 

" Believe in anything ? I only believe in one 
thing, pleasure of taste. In that way you get back 
though, with me, to mathematics and paleozoic 
times, and the coloured powders of the earth." 

Anastasya ordered a gateau reine de Samothrace. 

" Eeine de Samothrace ! Eeine de Samothrace ! " 
Tarr muttered. "Donnez-moi une omelette au 
rhum." 

Tarr looked at her for some time in a steady, 
depressed way. What a treat for his eyes not to be 
jibing ! She held all the imagery of a perfect world. 
There was no pathos anywhere in her form. Kind- 
ness — bestial kindness — would be an out-of-work in 
this neighbourhood. The upper part of her head 
was massive and intelligent. The middle of her body 
was massive and exciting. There was no animalism 
out of place in the shape of a weight of jaw. The 
weight was in the head and hips. But was not this 
a complete thing by itself ? How did he stand as 
regards it ? He had always been sceptical about 
perfection. Did she and he need each other ? His 
steadfast ideas of the flower surrounded by dung 
were challenged. She might be a monotonous 
abstraction, and, if accepted, impoverish his life. 

296 



She was the summit, and the summit was narrow. 
Or in any case was not ugliness and foolishness the 
richest soil ? Irritants were useful though not 
beautiful. He reached back doubtfully towards his 
bourgeoise. But he was revolted as he touched that 
mess, with this clean and solid object beneath his 
eyes. He was not convinced, though, that he was on 
the right road. He preferred a cabin to a palace, and 
thought that a villa was better for him than either, 
but did not want to order his life so rigidly as that. 

- " What did you make of Kreisler's proceedings % " 
she asked him. 

" In what way do you mean % " 

11 Well, first — do you think he and Bertha — got on 
very well % " 

" Do you mean was Bertha his mistress % I 
should think not. But I'm not sure. That isn't 
very interesting, is it ? " 

" Kreisler is interesting, not Bertha, of course." 

" You're very hard on Bertha." 

She put her tongue out at him and wrinkled up 
her nose. 

A queen, standing on her throne, was obtruding her 
" unruly member." 

" What were Kreisler's relations with you, by the 
/way % " he asked blankly. 

Her extreme freedom with himself suggested 
possible explanations of her manner in discussing 
Soltyk's death at the time. 

" My relations with Kreisler consisted in a half- 
hour's conversation with him in a restaurant, and 
that was all. I spoke to him several times after that, 
but only for a few minutes. He was very excited 
the last time we met. I have a theory that his duel 
and general behaviour was due to unrequited passion 
for me. Tour Bertha, on the other hand, has a 
theory that it was due to unrequited passion for Tier. 
I wondered if you had any information that might 
support her case or mine." 

" No. I know nothing about it. I hold, myself, 
a quite different theory." 

297 



" What is that ! That he was in love with you % " 

"My theory has not the charming simplicity of 
your theory or Bertha's. I don't believe that he 
was in love with anybody. I believe, though, that 
it was a sex-tumult of sorts " 

" What is that ? " 

" You want to hear my theory ? This is it. I 
believe that all the fuss he made was an attempt to 
get out of Art back into life again, like a fish flopping 
about who had got into the wrong tank. It would 
be more exact to say, bach into sex. He was trying 
to get back into sex again out of a little puddle of Art 
where he felt he was gradually expiring. What 
I mean is this. He was an art student without any 
talent, and was leading a dull, slovenly existence 
like thousands of others in the same case. He was 
very hard up. Things were grim that way too. The 
sex-instinct of the average man, then, had become 
perverted into a silly false channel. Or it might be 
better to say that his elementary art-instinct had 
been rooted out of sex and one or two other things, 
where it was both useful and ornamental, and 
naturally flourished, and had been exalted into a 
department by itself, where it bungled and wrecked 
everything. It is a measure the need of which 
hits the eye in these days to keep the art-instinct of 
the run of men in its place. These art-spirits should 
be kept firmly embedded in sex, in fighting, and in 
affairs. The nearest the general run of men can get 
to Art is Action. Eeal, bustling, bloody action is 
what they want ! Sex is their form of art : the battle 
of existence in enterprise, Commerce, is their picture. 
The moment they think or dream you get an immense 
weight of cheap stagnating passion that becomes a 
menace to the health of the world. A " cultured " 
nation is as great a menace as a " free " one. The 
answer to the men who object to this as high-handed 
is plain enough. You must answer : ISTo man's claim 
is individual ; the claim of an exceptional being is that 
of an important type or original — is an inclusive claim. 
The eccentric Many do not matter. They are the 

298 



individuals. And anyway Goddam economy in any 
shape or form ! Long live Waste ! Curse the 
principle of Humanity ! Mute inglorious Miltons are 
not mute for God-in-Heaven. They have the Silence. 
Bless Waste, Heaven bless Waste ! Hoch Waste ! " 

" I'll drink to that ! " said Anastasya, raising her 
glass. "Here's to Waste! Hoch!" Tarr drank 
this toast with gusto. 

" Here's to Waste ! " he said loudly. " Waste 
yourselves, pour yourselves out, let there be no High- 
Men except such as happen ! Economy is sedition. 
Drink your blood if you have no wine ! But waste ; 
fling out into the streets ; never count your yarn. 
Accept fools, compromise yourselves with the poor 
in spirit, fling the rich ones behind you ; live like 
the lions in the forests with fleas on your back. Down 
with the Efficient Chimpanzee ! " 

Anastasya' s eyes were bloodshot with the gulp 
she had taken to honour Waste. Tarr patted her 
on the back. 

" There are no lions in the forests ! " she hiccuped, 
patting her chest. " You're pulling my leg." 

They got to their coffee more or less decorously. 
But Tarr had grown extremely loquacious and 
expansive in every way. He began slapping her 
/thighs to emphasise his points, as Diderot was in the 
habit of doing with the Princesse de Cl&ves. After 
that he began kissing her, when he had made a par- 
ticularly successful remark, to celebrate it. Their 
second bottle of wine had put many things to flight. 
He lay back in his chair in prolonged bursts of 
laughter. She, in German fashion, clapped her hand 
over his mouth, and he seized it with his teeth and 
made pale shell-shapes in its brown fat. 

In a caf£ opposite the restaurant, where they next 
went, they had further drinks. 

They caressed each other's hands now as a matter 
of course ! Indifferent to the supercilious and bitter 
natives, they became lost in lengthy kisses, their 
arms round each other's necks. In a little cave of 
intoxicated affection, a conversation took place. 

299 



Have you had dealings with many- 



What's that you say, dear ! " she asked with 
eager, sleepy seriousness. The " dear " reminded 
him of aecostings in the streets. 

" Have you been the mistress of many men ? " 

" No, of course not. Only one. He was a Bussian." 

" What's that got to do with it ? " 

" What did you say ? " 

" How much did he bag ? " 

" Bag 1 " 

" What did the Eussian represent ? " 

" Nothing at all, Tarr. That's why I took him. 
I wanted the experience. But now I want you! 
You are my first person ! " Distant reminiscences 
of Bertha, grateful to him at present. 

Kisses succeeded. 

" I don't want you ! " Tarr said. 

" Oh ! Tell me what you want ? " 

" I want a woman ! " 

" But I am a woman, stupid ! " 

" I want a slave." 

She whispered in his ear, hanging on his neck. 

" Kb ! You may be a woman, but you're not a 
slave." 

" Don't be so quarrelsome. Forget those silly 
words of yours — slave, woman. It's all right when 
you're talking about art, but you're hugging a woman 
at present. This is something that can die ! Ha 
ha ! We're in life, my Tarr. We represent absolutely 
nothing — thank God ! " 

" I realize I'm in life, darling. But I don't like 
being reminded of it in that way. It makes me feel 
as though I were in a mauvais lieu" 

" Give me a kiss, you efficient chimpanzee ! " 

Tarr scowled at her, but did not alter the half- 
embrace in which they sat. 

" You won't give me a kiss ? Silly old inefficient 
chimpanzee ! " 

She sat back in her chair, and head down looked 
through her eyelashes at him with demure menace. 

11 Gargon ! gar§on ! " she called. 
300 



" Mademoiselle ? " the gargon said, approaching 
slowly, with dignified scepticism. 

" This gentleman, gargon, wants to be a lion with 
fleas on his back — at least so he says ! At the same 
time he wants a slave. I don't know if he expects 
the slave to catch his fleas or not. I haven't asked 
him. But he's a funny-looking bird, isn't he ? " 

The gargon withdrew with hauteur. 

" What's the meaning of your latest tack, you little 
German art-tart ? " 

" What ami!" 

11 1 called you German aesthetic pastry. I think 
that describes you." 

" Oh, tart, is it ? " 

" Anything you like. Very well made, puffed out. 
With one solitary Eussian, bien entendu ! " 

" And what, good God, shall we call the cow-faced 
specimen you spend the greater part of your days 
with " 

11 She, too, is German pastry, more homely than 
you though " 

" Homely' s the word ! " 

"But not quite so fly-blown. Less variegated 
creams and German pretentiousness " 

" I see ! And takes you more seriously than other 
people would be likely to ! That's what all your 
' quatch ' about ' woman ' and ' slave ' means. 
You know that ! " 

She had recovered from the effects of the drinks 
completely and was sitting up and talking briskly, 
looking at him with the same serious, rather flattened 
face she had had during their argument on Art and 
Death. 

" I know you are a famous whore, who becomes 
rather acid in your cups ! — when you showed me 
your legs this evening, I suppose I was meant " 

" Assez ! Assez ! ! " She struck the table with 
her fist. 

11 Let's get to business." He put his hat on and 
leant towards her. " It's getting late. Twenty -five 
francs, I'm afraid, is all I can manage." 

301 



11 Twenty -five francs for what ? With you — it 
would be robbery ! Twenty-five francs to be your 
audience while you drivel about art U Keep your 
money and buy Bertha an — efficient chimpanzee ! 
She will need it if she marries you ! " 

Her mouth drawn tight and her hands in her 
coat pockets, she walked out of the door of the cafe. 

Tarr ordered another drink. 

" It's like a moral tale told on behalf of Bertha," 
he thought. That was the temper of Paradise ! 
The morality, in pointing to Bertha, did her no good, 
but caused her to receive the trop-plein of his 
discontent. 

He sat in a grim sulk at the thought of the good 
time he had lost. This scene had succeeded in 
touching the necessary spring. His vanity helping, 
for half an hour he plotted his revenge and satisfaction 
together. Anastasya had violently flung off the 
illusion of indifference in which she had hitherto 
appeared to him. The drinks of the evening were a 
culture in which his disappointment grew luxuriantly, 
but with a certain buffoonish lightness. He went 
back to his studio in half an hour's time with smug, 
thick, secretive pleasure settling down on his body's 
ungainly complaints. 



CHAPTEE III 

He went slowly up the stairs feeling for his key. 
He arrived at the door without having found it. 
The door was ajar. At first this seemed natural 
to him, and he continued the search for the key. 
Then he suddenly dropped that occupation, pushed 
the door open and went into his studio. The moon- 
light came heavily through the windows. In a 
part of the room where it did not strike he became 
aware of an apparition of solid white. It was solid 
white flowed round by Naples yellow. It crossed 
into the moonlight and faced him, its hands placed 

302 



like a modest statue's. The hair reached below the 
waist, and flowed to the right from the head. This 
tall nudity began laughing with a harsh sound like 
stone laughing. 

" Close the door ! " it shouted, " there's a draught. 
You took a long time to consider my words. I've 
been waiting. Forgive me, Tarr. My words were 
acidulated whores, but my heart " — she put her hand 
on the skin roughly above that organ — " my heart 
was completely full of sugar ! The acidulated derni- 
mondaine was a trick. It occupied your mind. You 
didn't notice me take your key ! " 

His vanity was soothed. The key in her possession, 
which could only have been taken in the caf6, seemed 
to justify the harsh dialogue. 

She stood before him now with her arms up, hands 
joined behind her head. This impulse to take her 
clothes off had the cultural hygienic touch so familiar 
to him. The Naples yellow of the hair was the same 
colour as Bertha's, only it was coarser and thicker, 
Bertha's being fine. Anastasya's dark face, there- 
fore, had the appearance almost of a mask. 

" Will you engage me as your model ? Je fais de 
la reclame pour les Grecs." 

" You are very Ionian — hardly Greek. But I don't 
require a model. I never use nude models." 

11 Well, I must dress again, I suppose." She turned 
towards a chair where her clothes were piled. But 
Tarr had learnt the laws of cultural emancipation. 
' He shouted, " I accept, I accept ! " He lifted her 
up in his arms, kissing her in the mass, as it were, and 
carried her through the door at the back of the studio 
leading to his bedroom. 

" Tarr, be my love. I don't want to give you up." 
This was said next morning, the sunlight having 

taken the place of the moonlight, but striking on the 

opposite side of the house. 

" You won't hear marriage talked about by me. 

I want to rescue you from your Bertha habits. 

Allow yourself to be rescued ! We're very well to- 

303 



gether, aren't we ? I'm not doing Bertha a bad turn, 
either, really. I admit my motive is quite selfish. 
What do you say ? " 

"I am your slave ! " 

Anastasya rolled up against him with the movement 
of a seal. 

" Thank you, Tarr. That's better than having a 
slave, isn't it ? " 

" Yes, I think everything is in order." 

" Then you're my efficient chimpanzee ? " 

" No, I'm the new animal ; we haven't found a 
name for it yet. It will succeed the Superman. 
Back to the Earth ! " 

" Jean -Jacques Eousseau. Kiss me!" 



CHAPTEE IV 

Tare crawled towards Bertha that day on the back 
of a Place St. Michel bus. He did not like his job. 

The secret of his visits to Bertha and interminable 
liaison was that he really never had meant to leave 
her at all, he reflected. He had not meant to leave 
her altogether. He was just playing. Or rather, a 
long debt of disgraceful behaviour was accumulating, 
that he knew would have to be met. It was delibe- 
rately increased by him, because he knew he would 
not repudiate it. But it would have been absurd 
not to try to escape. 

To-day he must break the fact to Bertha that he 
could no longer regard himself as responsible. He 
was faced with the necessity, for the first time, of 
seriously bargaining. The debt was not to be repu- 
diated, but he must tell her that he only had himself 
to pay with, and that he had been seized by somebody 
else. 

He passed through her iron gateway with a final 
stealth, although making his boots sound loudly on 
the gravel. It was like entering a vault, the trees 
looked like weeds ; the meaning or taste of every - 

304 



thing, of course, had died. The concierge looked 
like a new one. 

He had bought a flower for his buttonhole. He 
kept smelling it as he approached the house. 

During the last week or so he had got into the 
habit of writing his letters at Bertha's, to fill up the 
time. Occasionally he would do a drawing of her 
(a thing he had never done formerly) to vary the 
monotony. This time there would be no letter- 
writing. This visit would be more like the old ones. 

" Come in, Sorbert," she said, on opening the door. 
It was emphasizing the fact of the formality of the 
terms on which they at present met. Any preroga- 
tive of past and more familiar times was proudly 
rejected. 

There was the same depressed atmosphere as 
the day before, and the days preceding that. She 
appeared stale, somehow deteriorated and shabby, 
her worth decreased, and extremely pitiable. Her 
" reserve " (a natural result of the new equivocal 
circumstances) removed her to a distance, as it 
seemed ; it also shut her up in herself, in an un- 
healthy, dreary, and faded atmosphere. 

She was shut up with a mass of reserves and 
secrets, new and old. She seemed sitting on them 
in rather dismal hen-like fashion, waiting to be 
asked to come out of herself and reveal something. 
It was a corpse among other things that she was 
sitting on, as Kreisler was one of her secrets. Mourn- 
fully reproachful, she kept guard over her secrets, 
a store of bric-a-brac that had gone out of fashion 
and were getting musty in a neglected shop. 

Their meetings sometimes were made painful by 
activity on Bertha's part. An attempt at penetra- 
tion to an intimacy once possessed can be more 
indecent than the same action on the part of a 
stranger. 

This time he was greeted with long mournful 
glances. He felt she had thought of what she should 
say. This interview meant a great deal to her. His 
friendship meant more to her now than ever. The 

305 u 



abject little room seemed to be thrust forward to 
awaken his memories and ask for pity. An intense 
atmosphere of Teutonic suicide permeated every- 
thing. He could not move an eyelid or a muscle 
without wounding or slighting something. It was 
like being in a dark kitchen at night, where you know 
at every step you will put your foot on a beetle. It 
had a still closer analogy to this in the disgust he 
felt for these too naked and familiar things he was 
treading on. He scowled at Beethoven, who scowled 
back at him like a reflection in a mirror. It was the 
fate of both of them to haunt this room. The Mona 
Lisa was there, and the Breton sabots and jars. She 
might have a change of scenery sometimes ! He felt 
unreasonably that she must have left things in the 
same place to reproduce a former mood in him. 
His photograph was prominent on her writing-table ; 
she seemed to say (with a sort of sickly idiocy), " You 
see, he is faithful to me ! " 

She preceded him to her sitting-room. As he 
looked at her back he thought of her as taking a set 
number of paces, then turning round abruptly, con- 
fronting him. From a typical and similar enervation 
of the will to that which was at the bottom of his 
troubles, he could hardly stop himself from putting 
his arm round her waist while they stood for a moment 
close to each other. He did not wish to do this as 
a response to any resuscitating desire. It was only 
because it was the one thing he must not do. To 
throw himself into the abyss of perplexity he had just 
escaped from tempted him. The dykes and simula- 
tions of conduct were perpetually threatened by his 
neurasthenia in this way. He kept his hands in his 
pockets, however. 

When they had reached the room, she turned 
round, as he had half imagined, and caught hold of 
his hands. 

" Sorbert, Sorbert ! " 

The words were said separately, each emphatic in 
significance. The second was a repetition only of 
the first. She seemed calling him by his name to 

306 



conjure back his self again. Her face was a strained 
and anxious mask. 

" What is it, Bertha ? " 

" I don't know ! " 

She dropped his hands, drooped her head to the 
right and turned away. 

She sat down ; he sat down opposite her. 

" Anything new ? " he asked. 

" Anything new ? Yes ! " She gazed at him with 
an insistent meaning. 

He concluded this was just overemphasis, with 
nothing behind it ; or, rather, everything. 

" Well, I have something new as well ! " 

" Have you, Sorbert ? " 

11 First of all, how have my visits struck you 
lately ? What explanation have you found for 
them ? " 

" Oh, none. Why find an explanation ? Why do 

you ask ? " 

" 1 thought I would explain." 
« We n f » 

" My explanation to myself was that I did not want 
to leave you brusquely, and I thought a blurred 
interlude of this sort would do no harm to either of 
us. Our loves could die in each other's arms." 

She stared with incredulous fixity at the floor, her 
spirit seeming to be arched like a swan and to be 
gazing down hypnotically. 

II The real reason was simply that, being very fond 
'Of you, I could not make up my mind to give you 
up. I claim that my visits were not frivolous." 

" Well % " 

II I would have married you, if you had considered 
that advisable." 

" Yes t And ? " 

" I find it very difficult to say the rest." 

" What is difficult ? " 

"Well, I still like you very much. Yesterday I 
met a woman. I love her too. I can't help that. 
What must I do ! " 

Bertha turned a slightly stormier white. 
307 



" Who is she ? M 

" You know her. She is Anastasya Vasek." 

The news struck through something else, and, 

inside, her ego shrank to an almost wizened being. 

It seemed glad of the protection the cocoon, the 

something, afforded her. 

" You did not — find out what my news was." 

" I didn't. Have you anything ? " 

" Yes. I am enceinte." 

He thought about this in a clumsy, incredulous way. 
It was a Eoland for his Oliver ! She was going to 
have a baby ! With what regularity he was countered ! 
This event rose up in opposition to the nighfc he had 
just spent, his new promises and hopes of swagger 
sex in the future. He was beaten. 

" Whose child is it 1 " 

11 Kreisler's." 

" There you are ! " he thought. 

He got up and stepped over to her with a bright 
relieved look in his face. 

" Poor little girl ! That's a bad business. But don't 
worry about it. We can get married and it can 
always pass as mine — if we do it quickly enough." 

She looked up at him obliquely and sharply, with 
suspicion grown a habit. When she saw the pleasant, 
assured expression, she saw that at last things had 
turned. Sorbert was denying reality ! He was end- 
ing with miracles, against himself. Her instinct had 
always told her that generosity would not be wasted ! 

She did not tell him of the actual circumstances 
under which the child had come. That would have 
weakened her happiness and her case. 



CHAPTEE V 

When he got outside Bertha's house, Bertha waving 
to him from the window with tears in her eyes, he 
came in for the counter-attack. 

308 



One after the other the protesting masses of good 
sense rolled up. 

He picked his way out of the avenue with a reason- 
ing gesticulation of the body ; a chicken-like motion 
of sensible fastidious defence in front of buffonic 
violence. At the gate he exploded in harsh laughter, 
looking bravely and railingly out into the world 
through his glasses. Then he walked slowly away in 
his short jacket, his buttocks moving methodically 
just beneath its rim. 

" Ha ha ! Ha ha ! Kreisleriana ! " he shouted 
without his voice. 

The indignant plebs of his glorious organism rioted 
around his mind. 

" Ha ha ! Ha ha ! SaerS farceur, where are you 
leading us ? " They were vociferous. " You have 
kept us fooling in this neighbourhood so long, and 
now you are pledging us to your idiotic fancy for 
ever. Ha ha ! Ha ha ! " 

"Be reasonable ! What are you doing, master of 
our destiny ? We shall all be lost ! " 

A faction clamoured, " Anastasya ! " Certain 
sense-sections attacked him in vulnerable spots with 
Anastasya's voluptuous banner unfurled and fragrant. 

He buffeted his way along, as though spray were 
dashing in his face, watchful behind his glasses. He 
met his thoughts with a contemptuous stiff veteran 
smile. This capricious and dangerous master had an 
offensive stylistic coolness, similar to Wellington 
breakfasting at Salamanca while Marmont hurried 
exultingly into traps ; although he resembled his 
great countryman in no other way. 

Those thoughts that bellowed, " Anastasya ! " 
however, worried him. He answered them. 

" Anastasya ! Anastasya ! ! I know all about 
that ! What do you take me for ? You will still 
have your Anastasya. I am not selling myself or 
you. A man such as I does not dispose of himself 
in a case like this. I am going to marry Bertha 
Lunken. Well ? Shall I be any the less my own 
master for that reason ? If I want to sleep with 

309 



Anastasya, I shall do so. Why marry Bertha Lunken, 
and shoulder all that semi-contagious muck ? Because 
it is only the points or movements in life that matter, 
and one of those points indicates that course, namely, 
to keep faith with another person : and secretly to 
show my contempt for the world by choosing the 
premier venu to be my body-servant and body- 
companion ; my contempt for my body too." 

He sought to overcome his reasons by appeals to 
their corporate vanity 

He had experienced rather a wrench as regards 
Anastasya. The swanky sex with which he had 
ornamented his future could not be dismissed so 
easily. He was astonished that it could be dismissed 
at all, and asked himself the reason. He sacrificed 
Anastasya with a comparatively light heart. It was 
chiefly his vanity that gave trouble. 

He came back to his earlier conclusions. Such 
successful people as Anastasya and himself were by 
themselves. It was as impossible to combine or wed 
them as to compound the genius of two great artists. 
If you mixed together into one whole Gainsborough 
and Goya you would get nothing, for they would be 
mutually destructive. Beyond a certain point of 
perfection individual instinct was its own law. A 
subtle lyrical wail would gain nothing from living 
with a rough and powerful talent, or vice versa. 
Success is always personal. Co-operation, group- 
genius was, he was convinced, a slavish pretence and 
absurdity. Only when the group was so big that it 
became a person again, as with a nation, did you 
get mob -talent or popular art. This big, diffuse, 
vehement giant was the next best thing to the great 
artist ; Patchin Tcherana coming just below. 

He saw this quite clearly. He and Anastasya were 
a superfluity, and destructive conflict. It was like 
a mother being given a child to bear the same size 
already as herself. Anastasya was in every way too 
big ; she was too big physically. But did not sex 
change the whole question, when it was a woman ? 
He did not agree to this. Woman and the sexual 

310 



sphere seemed to him to be an average from which 
everything came : from it everything rose, or attempted 
to rise. There was no mysterious opposition extend- 
ing up into Heaven, and dividing Heavenly Beings 
into Gods and Goddesses. There was only one God, 
and he was a man. A woman was a lower form of 
life. Everything was female to begin with. A 
jellyish diffuseness spread itself and gaped on the 
beds and in the bas-fonds of everything. Above a 
certain level of life sex disappeared, just as in highly 
organized sensualism sex vanishes. And, on the 
other hand, everything beneath that line was female. 
Bard, Simpson, Mackenzie, Townsend, Annandale — 
he enumerated acquaintances evidently below the 
absolute line, and who displayed a lack of energy, 
permanently mesmeric state, and almost purely 
emotional reactions. He knew that everything on 
the superior side of that line was not purged of jellyish 
attributes ; also that Anastasya's flaccid and funda- 
mental charms were formidable, although the line 
had been crossed by her. One thing was impressive, 
however. The loss of Anastasya did not worry him, 
except magnified through the legal acquisition of 
Bertha. What did he want ? Well, he did not want 
Anastasya as much as he should. He was incorrigible, 
he concluded. He regarded the Anastasya evening 
as a sort of personal defeat even. The call of duty 
was nevertheless very strong. He ought to love 
Anastasya ; and his present intentions as regards his 
' despicable fiancee were a disgraceful betrayal, etc. 
etc. The mutterings of reason continued. 

That evening he met Anastasya. The moment he 
saw her he realized the abysses of indignity and poor- 
ness he was flinging himself into with Bertha Lunken. 
A sudden humbleness entered him and put him out 
of conceit with his judgment, formed away from 
bright objects like Anastasya. The selfishness that 
caused his sentimentality when alone with Bertha 
was dissipated or not used in presence of more or 
less successful objects and people. None of his ego 

311 



was required by his new woman. She possessed 
plenty of her own. This, he realized later, was the 
cause of his lack of attachment. He needed an 
empty vessel to flood with his vitality, and not an 
equal and foreign vitality to exist side by side with 
coldly. He had taken into sex the proeedes and selfish 
arrangements of life in general. He had humanized 
sex too much. He frequently admitted this, but 
with his defence lost sight of the flagrancy of the 
permanent fact. 

He felt in Anastasya for the first time now an 
element of protection and safety. She was a touch- ■ 
wood and harbour from his perplexed interior life. 
She had a sort of ovation from him. All his obstinacy 
in favour of his fiancee had vanished. With Anas- 
tasya's appearance an entirely different world was 
revealed that demanded completely new arguments. 

They went to the same restaurant as the night 
before. He talked quietly, until they had drunk too 
much, and Bertha was not mentioned. 

" And what of Bertha f " she asked finally. 

" Never mind about Bertha." 

" Is she extinct ? " 

" No. She threatens an entirely new sort of 
eruption." 

" Oh. In what way new ? " 

" It doesn't matter. It won't come our way." 

" Are you going there to-morrow ? " 

" I suppose I must. But I shall not make many 
more visits of " 

" What's that f " 

" I shall give up going, I say." He shifted rest- 
lessly in his chair. 

After breakfast next morning they parted, Tarr 
going back to work. Butcher, whom he had not seen 
for some days, came in. He agreed to go down into 
town and have lunch with him. Tarr put on a clean 
shirt. Talking to Butcher while he was changing, 
he stood behind his bedroom door. Men of ambitious 
physique, like himself, he had always noticed, were 

312 



inclined to puff themselves out or let their arms hang 
in a position favourable to their muscles while chang- 
ing before another man. To avoid this embarrass- 
ment or absurdity, he made a point of never exhibiting 
himself unclothed. 

His conversation with Butcher did not fall on 
matters in hand. As with Anastasya, he was un- 
usually reticent. He had turned over a new leaf. 
He became rather alarmed at this himself when he 
realized it. After lunch he left Butcher and went 
to the Mairie of the Quartier du Paradis and made 
inquiries about civil marriages. He did it like a 
sleep-walker. 

He was particularly amiable with Bertha that day, 
and told her of his activities at the Mairie and made 
an appointment with her there for the next day. 

Daily, then, he proceeded with his marriage 
arrangements in the afternoons, saw Bertha regularly, 
but without modifying the changed " correctness " 
of his attitude. The evenings he spent with Anas- 
tasya. 

By the time the marriage preliminaries had been 
gone through, and Bertha and he could finally be 
united, his relations with Anastasya had become 
as close as formerly his friendship with Bertha had 
been. With the exception of the time from three 
in the afternoon to seven in the evening that he 
took off every day to see his fiancee, he was with 
her. 

On September 29, three weeks after Bertha had told 
him that she was pregnant, he married her — in the 
time between three in the afternoon and seven in 
the evening set aside for her. Anastasya knew 
nothing about these things. Neither Bertha nor she 
were seeing their German women friends for the 
moment. 

After the marriage at the Mairie Bertha and Tarr 
walked back to the Luxembourg Gardens and sat 
down. She had not during the three intervening 
weeks mentioned Anastasya. It was no time for 

313 



generosity ; she had done too much of that. Fraulein 
Vasek was the last person for whom she felt inclined 
to revive chivalry. She let Tarr marry her out of 
pity, and never referred to his confidence about his 
other love. 

They sat for some time without speaking, as 
though they had quarrelled. She said, then : 

" I am afraid, Sorbert, I have been selfish " 

" You— selfish ? How's that? Don't talk non- 
sense." He had turned at once to her with a hurried 
fondness genuinely assumed. 

She looked at him with her wistful, democratic 
face, full of effort and sentiment. 

" You are very unhappy, Sorbert " 

He laughed convincingly. 

" No, I'm all right. Don't worry about me. I'm 
a little meditative. That is only natural on such a 
solemn occasion. I was thinking, Bertha, we must 
set up house somewhere, and announce our marriage. 
We must do this for appearance' sake. You will 
soon be incapacitated " 

" Oh, I shan't be just yet." 

" In any case, we have gone through this form 
because — — We must make this move efficacious. 
What are your ideas as to an establishment ? Let 
us take a flat together somewhere round here. The 
Eue Servandoni is a nice street. Do you know it ? " 

" No." She put her head on one side and puckered 
up her forehead. 

" Near the Luxembourg Museum." 

They discussed a possible domicile. 

He got up. 

" It's rather chilly. Let's get back." 

They walked for some time without speaking. So 
much unsaid had to be got rid of, without necessarily 
being said. Bertha did not know at all where she 
was. Their " establishment," as discussed by Tarr, 
appeared very unreal, and also, what there was of 
it, disagreeable. She wondered what he was going 
to do with her. 

314 



" You remember what I said to you some weeks 
ago — about Anastasya Vasek. I am afraid there 
has been no change in that. You do not mind 
that ? " 

" No, Sorbert. You are perfectly free." 

11 1 am afraid I shall seem unkind. This is not a 
nice marriage for you. Perhaps I was wrong to 
suggest it ? " 

" How, wrong % I have not been complaining." 

They arrived at the iron gate. 

" WelJ, I'd better not come up now. I will come 
along to-morrow — at the usual time." 

" Good-bye, Sorbert. A demain ! " 

" A demain ! " 



CHAPTEE VI 

Anastasya and he were dining that night in Mont- 
martre as usual. His piece of news hovered over 
their conversation like a bird hesitating as to the 
right spot at which to establish its nesfc. 

" I saw Bertha to-day," he said, forcing the opening 
at last. 

" You still see her then." 

" Yes. I married her this afternoon." 

11 You what% What do you mean ? " 
, " What I say, my dear. I married her." 

14 You mean you ? " She put an imaginary ring 

on her finger. 

11 Yes. I married her at the Mairie." 

Anastasya looked blankly into him, as though he 
contained cheerless stretches where no living thing 
could grow. 

" You mean to sav you've done that ! " 

" Yes ; I have." 

« why ? " 

Tarr stopped a moment. 

" Well, the alleged reason was that she is enceinte." 

44 But— whose is the child ! " 
315 



" Kreisler's, she says." 

The statement, she saw, was genuine. He was 
telling her what he had been doing. They both 
immediately retired into themselves, she to distance 
and stow away their former dialogue and consider 
the meaning of this new fact ; he to wait, his hand 
near his mouth holding a pipe, until she should have 
collected herself. But he began speaking first : 

" Things are exactly the same as before. I was 
bound to do that. I had allowed her to consider 
herself engaged a year ago, and had to keep to that. 
I have merely gone back a year into the past and 
fulfilled a pledge, and now return to you. All is in 
perfect order." 

" All is not in perfect order. It is Kreisler's child 
to begin with, you say " 

" Yes, but it would be very mean to use that fact 
to justify one in escaping from an obligation." 

" That is sentimentality." 

" Sentimentality ! Sentimentality ! Cannot we, 
you and I, afford to give Bertha %hat% Sentimen- 
tality ! What an absurd word that is with its fierce 
use in our poor modern hands ! What does it mean % 
Has life become such an affair of economic calculation 
that men are too timid to allow themselves any 
complicated pleasures? Where there is abundance 
you can afford waste. Sentimentality is a cry on a 
level with the Simple Life ! The ideal of perfect 
success is an ideal belonging to the same sort of 
individual as the inventor of Equal Eights of Man 
and Perfectibility. Sentimentality is a privilege. It 
is a luxury that the crowd does not feel itself equal to, 
once it begins to think about it. Besides, it is different 
in different hands." 

" That may be true as regards sentimentality in 
general. But in this case you have been guilty of a 
popular softness " 

" No. Listen. I will explain something to you. 
You said a moment ago that it was Kreisler's child. 
Well, that is my security ! That enables me to 
commit this folly, without too great danger. It is an 

316 



earnest of the altruistic origin of the action not being 
forgotten ! " 

" But that — to return to your words — is surely a 
very mean calculation ? " 

" Therefore it takes the softness out of the generous 
action it is allied to " 

" No. It takes its raison d'Stre away altogether. 
It leaves it merely a stupid and unnecessary fact. It 
cancels the generosity, but leaves the fact — your 
marriage." 

" But the fact itself is altered by that ! " 

" In what way ? You are now married to 
Bertha " 

" Yes, but what does that mean ? I married 
Bertha this afternoon, and here I am punctually and 
as usual with you this evening " 

" But the fact of your having married Bertha this 
afternoon will prevent your making any one else your 
wife in the future. Supposing I had a child by you — 
not by Kreisler — it would be impossible to legitimatize 
him. The thing is of no importance in itself. But 
you have given Kreisler's child what you should have 
kept for your own ! What's the good of giving your 
sex over into the hands of a swanky expert, as you 
describe it, if you continue to act on your own initia- 
tive ? I throw up my job. Garpon, I 'addition I " 

But a move to the caf6 opposite satisfied her as a 
demonstration. Tarr was sure of her, and remained 
passive. She extorted a promise from him : to 
cfonduct no more obscure diplomacies in the future. 



Bertha and Tarr took a flat in the Boulevard Port 
Eoyal, not far from the Jardin des Plantes. They 
gave a party to which Fraulein Lipmann and a good 
many other people came. He maintained the rule of 
four to seven, roughly, for Bertha, with the utmost 
punctiliousness. Anastasya and Bertha did not meet. 

Bertha's child came, and absorbed her energies for 
upwards of a year. It bore some resemblance to 
Tarr. Tarr's afternoon visits became less frequent. 

317 



He lived now publicly with his illicit and splendid 
bride. 

Two years after the birth of the child, Bertha 
divorced Tarr. She then married an eye-doctor, and 
lived with a brooding severity in his company and 
that of her only child. 

Tarr and Anastasya did not marry. They had no 
children. Tarr, however, had three children by a lady 
of the name of Eose Fawcett, who consoled him 
eventually for the splendours of his " perfect woman." 
But yet beyond the dim though solid figure of Eose 
Fawcett, another rises. This one represents the 
swing-back of the pendulum once more to the swagger 
side. The cheerless and stodgy absurdity of Eose 
Fawcett required the painted, fine and inquiring face 
of Prism Dirkes. 

THE END 



318 



EPILOGUE 

The artists of this country make the following plain 
and pressing appeal to their fellow-citizens. I have 
heard them in the places where they meet. 

(1) That in these tragic days when the forces 
of the nation, of intellect, of character, are being 
tested, they should grant more freedom to the artists 
and thinkers to develop their visions and ideas. That 
they should make an effort of sympathy. That the 
maudlin and the self -defensive Grin should be dropped. 

(2) That the Englishman should become ashamed 
of his Grin as he is at present ashamed of solemnity. 
That he should cease to be ashamed of his " feelings " : 
then he would automatically become less proud of 
his Grin. 

(3) That he should remember that seriousness and 
unsentimentality are quite compatible. Whereas a 
Grin usually accompanies loose emotionality. 

(4) That in " facing the facts of existence " as he is 
at present compelled to do, he should allow artists to 
economize time in not having to circumvent and get 
round those facts, but to use them simply and directly. 

(5) That he should restrain his vanity, and not 
always imagine that his leg is being pulled. A 
symbolism is of the nature of all human effort. There 
is no necessity to be literal to be in earnest. Humour, 
even, may be a symbol. The recognizing of a few 
simple facts of that sort would help much. 



In these onslaughts on Humour I am not suggesting 
that anybody should laugh less over his beer or 

319 



wine or forgo the consolation of the ridiculous. 
There are circumstances when it is a blessing. But 
the worship of the ridiculous is the thing that should 
be forgone. The worship (or craze, we call it) of 
Charlie Chaplin is a mad substitution of a chaotic 
tickling for all the other more organically important 
ticklings of life. 

Nor do I mean here that you or I, if we are above 
suspicion in the matter of those other fundamentals, 
should not allow ourselves the little scurvy totem of 
Charlie on the mantlepiece. It is not a grinning face 
we object to but a face that is mean when it is serious 
and that takes to its grin as a duck takes to water. 
We must stop grinning. You will say that I do not 
practise what I preach. I do : for if you look closely 
at my grin you will perceive that it is a very logical 
and deliberate grimace. 

P. Wyndham Lewis 

1915 



FEINTED AT THE COMPLETE PRESS, WEST NORWOOD, LONDON